When I was in high school, I took an art class. In the course of that class, the teacher gave us a drawing exercise that was fairly complicated for the beginners we were, yet threw a curve at us. She took away our erasers! She instructed us to simply “draw over” any mistakes, lines that did not belong, or shapes that did not appear to convey what we believed they should express. Not only would this give us practice in drawing techniques, but would break us of the tightness of any perfectionism within our artworks. The object was the freedom of expression, surrendering to the process so that the true message of our creativity could emerge. Panic ensued until we trusted that submission. It occurred to me that this is a wonderfully targeted illustration of how God transforms us…by helping us to surrender to who He made us to become. Yet as the musician Michael W. Smith observed, “This becoming is harder than it seems.” That level of trust is not easily within our grasp, no?
Art is not merely copying “what one sees”, but communication of deeper truths the artist themselves perceive about a subject. Therefore, to an extent, immediate form can be considered irrelevant, which is the principle that gives abstract art its impact. God gave me such a direction at the beginning of this past year. He had said to me, “This is going to be your year for healing; GET READY.” He told me that He would accomplish this, not by erasing the brokenness in me, but by darkening the background, the negative space that surrounded the true message He wanted the world to comprehend in viewing me and how I lived my life. He wanted others to understand His redemptive, transforming, transcending power, the potency of His prerogative in the lives of people who have surrendered to His reconciliation through Jesus’ work in His love for us.
This redemptive creating has emerged in my life at a cataclysmic price…either I open every door in my soul to Jesus’ synthesizing power, or be relegated to the remains of the constant struggle of growth by self-effort. Earthshaking decisions involving the war between love and death evolved in ways I did not expect. There are times when it would seem that the excruciating pain will be the end of me, yet He promises that it will be worth the sacrifice, the time, the effort of that submission. The truth? I long to give up fighting for myself and sink deep into His chest, allowing His comfort and peace to surround me whilst I scream out my agony of the process, allowing Him to infuse my heart and soul with His debriding, cleansing, and bandaging. The problem? Not all of me is so eager to give up that control and trust. Does every corner of me truly belong to Jesus? I don’t like pain; it hurts me. I don’t like being frightened; it scares me. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that this is something with which every single one of us wrestles.
We know that He promises He will never leave us destitute; He yearns to flood us with His peace, compassion, and love, overwhelming the extent of our surrenderings. I pray that each of us will take the opportunity of transparency with Him, true intimacy with Him, true nakedness of soul, without shame. Let Him darken our negative spaces to starkly delineate His message of love.