A face smudged with charcoal, and paint streaking the tips of my long blonde hair, that’s how you will find me these days. Who knew I’d become an artist in my twenties? Not me. As I uncovered painful and suppressed moments from my past, beauty was risen out of my ashes. Not a beauty that I could ever conjure up, but one only brought from the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Dying to myself, dying to the old me in ancient heart places I didn’t realize were still set on loop. Bitter roots repeating childhood and adolescent scenes in my soul over and over again, but my conscious mind had no idea. Here in the present I could only the see the surface reactions of these roots, like an anxiety attack from a too tight seat belt or a panicked hopelessness from a minor conflict. Jesus came in those bitter, cold places and did what He does best…He loved me there. So much came from that season of soul restoration, a passion for worshipping God through art was a big one. I spent my summer experimenting with different forms of art and so far have narrowed down to charcoal sketching and oil painting being my preferred avenues. They are both messy and beautiful, just like humans..just like me.
I loved the secret place I dwelled with the Lord this summer so much, that I honestly didn’t really want to leave. However, I felt Him calling me back out into the world to love His people and tell my story of what happened with Jesus and I during the summer. Now I am learning to stay in the secret place with God in my soul even while I walk through all kinds of life places- true rest for your soul. I saw this new season approaching filled with so much busyness, and I felt a bit intimidated. Still, the Lord was telling me to put one foot in front of the other, to keep going slowly. Two words, He said, “Say, ‘yes’.” So here we are. Instead of just being busy, I am being intentional with my time and keeping my head laying upon the Lord’s chest to hear every heart beat guiding me on.
This is the first week of my once daunting but now intentional new year, according to the Biblical calendar. Thus far it has exceeded all of my hopes and prayers and has been jam packed with amazing God encounters. Last month I started a create group with the help of my artist sister, Cate. A group for creators to simply come together in the presence of God and create all types of things from music in worship sessions, writing, journaling, painting, sketching, etc. Tuesday night was our second Elohim Create group and in preparation the Lord led to me to Matthew 14, specifically the section of Jesus walking on water. The Word of the night being ‘trust‘. From there I was led to a few writing prompts for us to journal during our worship session. One of the prompts was, “Some areas I need to put more trust in God…” The day before that group, I kind of thought I would write something like “with my family’s safety” or “providing finances for our future missional endeavors”, but no. In the moment as I was totally immersed in the presence of God with both friends and new group visitors, I wrote something that kind of shocked me. I use the word shock, because it seems like basic knowledge and yet for me it is so profound.
An area I need to put more trust in God in is my now. I finally trust God with my future, but I am realizing that I struggle submitting my present time to Him. Whether it’s checking my e-mail a thousand times a day looking for a response from several different opportunities my family is waiting on, or spending many minutes a day wondering what is to come and how we will get there. I’ve been feeling like we are in an in between place. In that moment, God showed me that I still need to surrender to Him in the process before completion. Surrender to the process. And suddenly, as I type that out, it is all made so clear. I’m not in an in between place. I’m in THE only place. The now. The secret place with God. Can I stay here? Can’t I just take Jesus’s hand and let the dead bury the dead (Luke 9:60)? The answer will always be ‘yes’, I need only choose it.
This revelation from the Lord was also confirmed through a new art project I have been working on. For my recent birthday, my husband gifted me a ton of art supplies. A large travel easel being one of them. I wanted to use it, and so, began my first large piece. Over the few months of my new art journey, each time I have excitedly attempted to create something for others that they would like, it has turned out badly. Not only have I quickly lost interest, but I just haven’t felt it. That sounds bad, but it’s real. What I have done instead is pray about what I’m going to do, and then let the idea fill me. Then it becomes me. Not a job or task for someone else, but a piece of me that I put onto canvas or paper. And of course from there, I can then gift the piece to others or keep it for my own pleasure. That being said, as I sat staring at my large blank canvas wondering what to paint, I saw an image of my son, Lazarus. Then scrolling through my many phone pictures, I found the one I was envisioning. I thought for such a large piece I should try sketching it out first. Once my kids went to bed I spent a good portion of the night sketching the portrait and after all that work I decided I hated the sketch. I prayed and chose to jump into painting it. Examining all of the new paintbrush sets on my desk (courtesy of my sweet husband), my eyes locked in on a small metal palette knife. Let the mess begin. For two days I worked on something that looked like a melted image of Laz, totally despising every little imprint of paint I pressed into the blob I was creating.
I love my son so much and know how handsome he is. The blob I was attempting simply did not look like him. So I prayed. A lot. And God kept saying just put one more tiny streak here, mix a darker color and add a small dot of it over there. He was putting knowledge in my unexperienced brain and literally guiding me step by step. Slowly, Lazarus began to come into view on the canvas.
I have spent this entire week working on the project. If you’re like me, having little knowledge about painting, then it may not sound that challenging..but take my word for it, creating detailed portrait with oil paint AND using only a small palette knife to paint it is seriously challenging! I have no clue what I’m doing, but God is taking me slowly through the process. This is exactly what He is showing me! I can only take little steps, He will help me along the way. All that I have is my today, and I must not lose it due to being lost in my far away promises. The promises stand, I must merely submit to the process of the now.
I am still not finished with my Lazarus project, but I wanted to share the unfinished journey with you!
Here’s where I am with this portrait now. It’s not where I’ll be forever and it isn’t the complete picture, but it’s my today. Just as my life, today, is my only now. Surrender to the process friends, the promise is worth the journey.
“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be [b]perfect and complete, lacking nothing. ” (James 1:4 NKJV)