When you stand close to a painting, so close that your nose touches the canvas, you’ll just see haphazard splatters and a stray streaks of colour. Nothing looks very much on purpose, the closer you get. Spots and lines, dabs and dots. That’s it.
Or, your jaw could drop, if only you take a step back.
Two months ago, I came down with my second bout of sickness in the span of two weeks. I had grand plans of getting things organised and settled before I left for vacation to England. Instead, I had all-immersive course entitled “How to Say No”, with special electives on “…Especially When You Wanted To Do it All” and “…When You’re Throwing Up Your Guts”.
The truth was, I had run myself ragged. I started recovering with practical steps like taking my vitamins, exercising, and going to bed on time. But I also had to face that on top of my main role in YWAM (which was about to shift), I had five other part-time jobs and roles throughout the week. It was all stuff I loved, but I was starting to realise I couldn’t keep doing it all, nor did God want me to.
What’s my role? What do I need to let go of? What do I keep? I left to England with some big questions answered, but not all. What I knew for sure was that things couldn’t stay as they were. And to be clear, Jesus responded to all my questions—He’s rarely silent—yet one response was that I needed to “wait” until I got back. Which drove me insane.
So all I could do was just be in England—which wasn’t the worst. I wandered around art galleries with paintings by the likes of Da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh. I stopped in front of pieces I’d only ever seen in textbooks or on Pinterest. I stood as close as I could, my freckled nose only inches from the glass.
That’s where I noticed the brushstrokes. Up close, in one corner of the painting. A wriggly line, a crooked spot, dabs and dots. Absolutely nothing fancy about it.
After a moment, I stepped back—and a stranger walked up to me and whacked a feather pillow full-force to my stomach—oh, I mean—that level of shock, power, and gentleness is what it’s like to stand in front of a masterpiece.
For the months before, it had felt like my jobs, joys, and heartaches were just messy, unconnected splatters of paint. Up close, nothing in my life looked like a masterpiece, let alone a vaguely cohesive picture. Yet that afternoon in the heart of London, wandering those hallways, I had the opportunity to step back.
Will you trust that I’m painting a masterpiece, even though you’re too close to see it?
Will you trust that you’ll be able to step back one day, and it will all make sense?
Will you trust that I’m painting a masterpiece—with you?
The splattered paint was all He needed.
Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen