The Artist

As the artist prepares to begin his masterpiece, he resolves to create something unlike anything else he has ever made. Something so uniquely his. Something of which he can be proud. Something beautiful. Before his imagination escapes him, he begins to paint. With every stroke of the paintbrush, the artist rejoices as his creation begins to come alive. He slides the paintbrush over the canvas with purpose. Every line, every curve, every distressed streak, he creates with such meticulous intention. The colors blend perfectly, just the way he wants them to blend. They contrast in just the right places. The painting begins to take form. It’s coming alive. Its beauty can do nothing but elicit a smile on the face of its creator. It’s a smile that says, “This is beautiful.” A smile that says, “This is perfect.” A smile that says, “I cannot wait to present this to the world.” And it’s not even finished.

The artist continues to paint. And as the painting begins to near the finished product, he begins to speak to his work of art.

“You are so perfect. People may be tempted to insult me by looking at you and saying that you’re different. People may say that you’re not ‘normal’ or that you don’t look ‘right’. People may look at your imperfections and try to belittle my masterpiece, but take heart! I tell you the truth; your imperfections are what I love the most about you! It is in your imperfections that people can see the work of my hands. It is because of your imperfections that you are perfect. You are my masterpiece. You are beautiful. I created you with purpose. You are wonderfully, beautifully, purposefully, perfectly made. And you are mine.”


As he finishes his last sentence, the artist strokes one last streak of color on the painting and sets his paintbrush down. He gazes lovingly at his masterpiece, and he sees that it is good.

Some Barnabas Lessons

Lesson #1
I’ve had my fair share of stubborn campers this summer. Now, I’m not one to get frustrated or angered easily, but my goodness, some of these campers have really tested me. I tell them to do one thing and they either don’t do it at all, do the opposite, or just do something completely ridiculous. And sometimes, I tell them not to do something, and again, they sometimes continue to do it as if they never heard me at all. I’ve literally spend 45 minutes trying to get a camper out of bed before. Yeah. Real frustrating.

And then I got to thinking.

Stubborn campers remind me of how stubborn I can be towards God. He tells me to do something, or to NOT do something, but I just don’t listen. Sometimes I act as if I never heard Him at all. Or, I do it (or don’t do it) for a while and eventually I just end up going right back. How frustrating must that be for Him?! However, God has so much grace for me. So much patience. So much consistent love for me. Who am I to lose my patience with campers that I have for a week? I can either spend my week losing my patience, or I can spend my time investing in them, being gracious with them, and loving them like Jesus would. Just like He does for me ALL THE TIME.

Lesson #2
I’ve also had campers that are so, so, so difficult to feed. And not even necessarily feed, but more so difficult to get to eat anything. I can ask them to eat over and over and over again. I could cut up their food into bite-sized pieces. I could even put the food on the fork and bring it to their mouths, but sometimes, they just… won’t… eat. However, whenever a camper finally takes a bite, albeit a tiny bite, I’m filled with SO much joy! Because, oftentimes, that small bite could whet the appetite to the point where he is consuming larger and larger portions.

And how true is that of us? So often, God tries to feed us. His word. His encouragement through others. His blessings for us. Lessons that we know we need to learn. He asks us to chew on something. He makes things small enough for us to eat and digest. Sometimes, he even puts it right in front of our faces. Far too often, we are too stubborn or stuck in our ways to take even the smallest bite. And that’s all God wants. All we have to do is take a bite. Even if it’s a tiny one. Think of how God rejoices when we finally decide to take a bite! And who knows, that small bite, the small bit of nourishment could end up whetting our appetite to the point where we are taking in larger portions. God can do so, so much for us. He can make it so easy for us. All we have to do is CHOOSE to take that first bite—even if it’s a tiny one. 

The Best Shower in the World

After an all day excursion at camp, or really any camping trip that involves little to no showering, I’m really dirty. I can see the dirt when I’m out in the woods in the midst of the dirt, but the extent of my dirtiness isn’t apparent to me until I come back inside to a place that’s clean. Not only do I look dirtier, I feel dirtier than I did when I was in the midst of the dirt. And the shower I have afterwards is literally the best shower in the world.

Processing…

Whenever I’m in the middle of sin—surrounded by it, experiencing it, covered by it—I see it, but the extent of my filth isn’t apparent to me until I come to a place that’s clean. Until I come to a place that’s holy. Until I come to Jesus. And not only do I see myself as dirtier, I feel dirtier. When I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, it was literally like the best shower in the world. I must choose to renew myself and “shower” daily to keep myself clean. If I don’t, I may slowly but surely end up being dirty. It’s all a process. And again, although I’ll see that I’m dirty, I won’t be able to clearly see the extent of my dirtiness until I come to a place—physically, emotionally, spiritually—that’s clean.