Lori McNee is an artist and has detailed the steps necessary to the complete a huge landscape painting. Although there are only 6 steps, they are each laden with subtle, nuanced, and at times lengthy sub-steps required to complete the masterpiece. For example, in step 1 Lori says to “work out your scene first with studies, photos, sketches.” In step 2 she says, “Start painting the masses with dark abstract shapes with the four basic value planes: the sky, the ground plane, slanted planes, and upright planes.”
In step 5 she tells us, “My paint mixture is getting more opaque and concentrating on values. My paint application is getting thicker but I’ll still scrape and wipeout to soften edges, and then work more paint on top of the scraped areas.” Finally, in step 6 one of the Lori’s comments is, “I’ve pushed thickness of paint, texture, value, contrast and hard edges. After it’s dried I’ll lightly sand and glaze in some warm tones made of transparent red earth.”
The final product is breathtaking! However, if you weren’t involved in the process it would be easy to miss the intentionality and precision that went into creating such a work of art. Likewise, the full manifestation of your purpose will take time to come out but as long as you remain committed to the process and maintain attention to detail in the sub-steps of life, you too will be a work of art.
In Ephesians 2:10, Paul writes, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The word used for ‘workmanship’ is the Greek word poiema. This word means thing that is made or product. It means masterpiece or work of art. This Greek word is the root of our English word, ‘poem’.
Theologian, Charles Spurgeon said, “You have seen a painter with his palette on his finger and he has ugly little daubs of paint on the palette. What can he do with those spots? Go in and see the picture. What splendid painting! In an even wiser way does Jesus act toward us. He takes us, poor smudges of paint, and He makes the blessed pictures of His grace out of us. It is neither the brush nor the paint He uses, but it is the skill of His own hand which does it all.”
There are two things to remember about great art. First, how it appears at the beginning is nothing compared to how it looks in the end. Second, great art takes time to become great.
THE ART OF WORK
Spurgeon goes on to say, “If we are marvelously wrought upon even before we are born, what shall we say of the Lord’s dealings with us after we quit His secret workshop, and He directs our pathway through the pilgrimage of life?” Just as the painting required much work, we too must work hard towards an expected end. The artist knows what the finished work should look like before they begin. The problem is that many of us don’t have a picture in mind of what it looks like to complete our purpose on earth. This picture can only be gained by getting a glimpse of what the Master artist had in mind when He created us. Once we get this picture we have to make a decision to put in work to become what we saw. It’s ok to believe you will be a great singer, writer, athlete, speaker, or parent but work supersedes words. “But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18)
THE WORK OF ART
The Apostle John declares in 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” We, the product don’t always have a clear picture of what we will become or what our purpose looks like once it is completed but we have to rely on what we know of the manufacturer. David declares in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Based on the masterpiece He’s already created in the form of the universe and a precisely designed and fine-tuned world for us to live in we should expect nothing less than to be His next masterpiece. This belief will lead us to govern our lives with wisdom and to pursue our purpose relentlessly.