My spiritual mentor paints with watercolors. She has taught beginning courses in that medium, and she honored me with one of her originals. Painting with watercolors, she explained, is an interesting art. The artist sketches an outline that presents the path, but the diluted colors usually add their own forms and shapes along the way. The water in the color cannot be fully controlled, which can cause frustration if the artist is not willing to “go with the flow.” It takes faith to trust that the water knows what it’s doing.
Another difficult aspect of watercolor is that you can’t make changes. Once the color hits the page, there is no turning back. You can’t paint over it because the paint is too translucent to hide what’s beneath; and you can’t scrape it off because the paint binds with the paper. All you can do is learn to anticipate the movement of the water. The more an artist study’s the flow of water, the better she will become at working with it. The end result is beautiful. The sketches underneath are fixed, but the colors around the lines take on their own life. The entire painting is a masterpiece of skill, imagination and faith.
When I placed my friend’s painting only inches from my face, I couldn’t see the distinction between each object. All the colors blended into each other, and I couldn’t tell what I was looking at. However, when I stepped ten feet from the painting, I could see the objects in detail. How could that be? My friend explained that your mind completes the shapes by drawing conclusions on what it sees. I saw sunglasses on a man’s face and a hat on his head from far away, but up close it just looked liked smudges of translucent paint. I gained a better perspective from a distance.
My walk with God is a lot like painting with watercolors. I sketch out my plans, but God’s movement never seems to stay in the lines. When I look real close at what He’s doing in my life, I become confused and frustrated. His will doesn’t seem to make sense to me, and I don’t understand how it’s all going to work out. Also, I make mistakes, and I know they are erased in His eyes, but they seem to always be there on my painting – never fully covered over or scraped off. They appear so ugly to me!
But God finally showed me through my friend that I’m looking too closely. I need to take a few steps back and look at my life from His perspective. He is the Master Painter, and He knows exactly what He’s doing. He doesn’t take over. He allows my imagination and passion to decide the subject, but His Spirit does flow through the pages of my life. God doesn’t cover up my sketches or scrape off my mistakes; instead, He shows off by incorporating my limited talent and redeemed sin into His perfect design. He works with us to make a one-of-the-kind masterpiece; and we have faith that our paintings will be hanging on the walls of His temple, telling the story of His glory in our lives.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8.28 NIV).