Archive for June, 2013

“For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) 

There was a man in the middle years of life who one day found himself in deep despair and desperation even though few people who lived with and around him knew of his plight. He seemed to have everything a man could want – a lovely wife and family, a seemingly fulfilling career and many of the fruits of his labor which many in this world can only dream of having. One night in desperation the man knelt by his bed and begged God to give him some indication as to where in his life he had missed the fulfillment and joy he had hoped for.

Even though he hadn’t been sleeping too well as of late, that night the man fell into a deep sleep. He dreamed of standing before a blank canvas, something like a mural on a wall. He saw on a small table a variety of jars of paint and brushes. At the same time he envisioned the art work of many of the master artists of the world. He loved and admired the stunning beauty of their work. Even several of his friends were advancing artists and were producing wonderful works of art, which, if he were honest caused envy to surface in his heart. He wondered if he too would be so fortunate as to create something with his hands that might be of beauty, wonder and substance. Perhaps even a masterpiece capable of bringing glory to his Creator.

The man looked up and before him stood a famous Master Artist who seemed interested in the opportunities that lay ahead for both of them. The Master said, “I will help you create something beautiful on that mural if you will trust me.” The proposition seemed good to the man as he was a mere novice but knew something of the integrity and skill of The Master.

The Master Artist left the man with all the supplies and some basic instructions and assured him that regardless of whether he sensed his presence or not He would always be with the young apprentice as a guide and mentor.

So the man got to work. He followed the instructions of The Master Artist. He used a variety of paints and brushes. He brushed one stroke after another on the canvas as The Master had instructed. After a time he stepped back to look at the canvas and it seemed to have no discernible pattern or captivating beauty. On one level it seemed that perhaps The Master did not understand the objective. The aspiring artist wanted to create something special which reflected his own skill, but also drew the admiration of others, just as other artists had produced.

The man still trusted that The Master knew best and followed the instructions, occasionally taking time to step back and reflect on what was being produced.

Then one day the apprentice artist grew impatient. He began to doubt that The Master really any personal interest in him at all. He also wondered if the Master had simply duped him. Feeling as if he was a deserted apprentice he grew anxious, angry, frustrated and weary. He was tired of working on a project that no one might ever notice and admire, especially one that did not measure up to the great works of art others had produced at The Master’s instruction.

One day out of desperation the man decided to dip his hand into a jar and indiscriminately throw paint at the canvas. After all, if The Master wasn’t there to give more specific instruction then he might as well trust his own skills and see what would happen. He stood back and looked at the canvas. The splashes of multiple colors didn’t seem to fit with what had been created up to that point, but then it didn’t seem to detract from it either. So he continued to follow the same process – tossing one color after another at the canvas and hoping that the result would sooner or later be positive.               ‘

After a time the man again grew frustrated with his own efforts. The multiple running colors and chaos on the canvas obviously made an awful mess. He longed for The Master to return and give him a refresher course on the original plan. One day he cried out in desperation and suddenly The Master reappeared.

To his astonishment, The Master wasn’t at all surprised at anything he had experienced. It seems that all aspiring artists have trouble trusting The Master Artist and following His instructions. He reassured him, “I usually leave apprentices to their own devices at times until they learn to trust Me and together we develop something of enduring substance and beauty.”

The aspiring artist found his encounter with The Master was the turning point. As he learned to trust The Master and form a more dynamic partnership he was no longer throwing paint haphazardly at the canvas, but adding strokes of value at the Master’s instruction. He even stepped back from the canvas and saw that his foolish antics even blended into the masterpiece, representing a time when he sensed The Master was merely a distant and aloof advisor.

When the man snapped out of his dream he awoke to the reality that there is an intentional life to be lived in harmony with The Eternal Master and a confidence in His care and skill more than the seeming beauty or chaos of his life as it unfolded.

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