Sunday, March 1, 2020

Where's the Grace?

If you read my last blog, I shared how some times the paint just flows almost effortlessly onto the canvas with an amazing and pleasing result, but the following day is just full of frustration and pain, followed by a canvas burial.  There was one painting in particular in which I had labored long and the painting went from bad to worse.  I finally invited God into that frustration and asked Him what was causing this problem, and  I heard a gentle and quick response:
"There's no grace on it."

I knew immediately what this was referencing.  When I realized over 3 years ago that God was giving me an intense desire to paint (but with no talent to back that up), it became a night and day mission to get something on the canvas that was presentable.

  When I first started, 1 out of 10 paintings would be halfway decent.  Then 2 out of 10 weren't so bad.  Then I jumped to 3 out of 10 actually not being a total embarrassment.  You get the idea.  There was steady progress coming out of my full-out painting committment.  I finally got to the point that some of my earlier "good" paintings joined other canvases that had gone to the trash bin.  What was once good became unacceptable.  You don't see what you don't see.  As I improved, I saw the imperfections and childish  style of my early paintings.  There was a very slow, painfully slow, yet steady progress being made.  But then I seemed to hit that plateau that those of us who have tried losing weight have experienced.  It felt like I was doing the right thing by putting in long hours, but nothing was moving.

That's when the grace question confronted me.  When I hear grace, I think of unmerited favor; something that can not be earned or deserved but is given freely by God.  God has impressed much on my heart over the last few years about grace because I often found myself on a hamster wheel, trying to do enough for God, striving to please Him and always worried that I just wasn't enough in His eyes.  Maybe you can relate.

He has put some amazing mentors in my life and has really taught me much about grace.  I just always assumed with the paintings that because this seemed to be God's idea, there would be daily grace to see it come to pass.  It had not occurred to me that there are seasons within seasons and the fact that God has called you to do something, doesn't mean that task is always a priority.  It depends on the day.

So rather than rushing to the easel, I have begun asking God daily how He wants me to spend my time.  To my surprise, painting was not the high priority I once believed it to be.  Instead, the Lord had me work on cleaning out my office and basement and closets for a month.  Does God really care about our closets? 

He started showing me that He is a God of divine order, not clutter and chaos.  I have to admit, getting things in order has been a pleasant adjustment!  My small office now houses everything I need for the business side of the interior design work along with all of my painting supplies, including a very large easel.  It's full!!  But how delightful to have need of some item and be able to go right to it.  It has brought an unexpected pleasure in my life and I don't waste time looking for things as I once did.  I would not have arrived at this point had grace been there daily for painting!

I only paint about 25% of the time now, but when I do, there is pleasure in knowing it's in God's timing with His favor on it and the things that are important to Him have been stewarded well.  Even if I feel He is inviting me to paint, I will often double check and ask "Is there anything that needs to be done first?"  Some days, it feels a bit like finishing my homework before going out to play!  Not a bad habit to develop!

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