I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver
and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’” - Zechariah 13:9
Let me start off this blog entry by saying that I am NOT what anyone would consider an artist. I enjoy crafty projects, but somehow they always come off looking like a toddler made them. That said, I really enjoy making watercolor bookmarks to send to those who need encouragement. I find the perfect scripture, choose a great color, add a few flourishes. It's very therapeutic. In the process of making some bookmarks yesterday, I realized that some of the things I do are a lot like God's refining process.
One of the things I do is that I use a broad brush to water-paint on the base color. When I do that, my hard-bristled brush actually causes the paper to pill. There really is no other way to do it that I know of, because to use a softer brush wouldn't give the coloring or stroke marks that I want, and to use dry paint wouldn't give the soft look to my color. I've learned through trial and error that trying to remove the spots of pilling while the paper is still wet only adds more pills. What I have to do is set the pilled paper aside to dry before I can remove the imperfections. Once it's dry, I take my softest flat-edged dry brush and sweep the pills off. The problem I then encounter is that in the drying process, some of the pills have adhered to the paper and I have to use the edge of my brush to gently scrape at them before I can sweep them away. Because of this, sometimes my paint doesn't look as smooth as I'd like it to, but I know that those are the areas I will spend extra time and attention on later with my paints, creating beautiful designs out of seeming flaws, or simply covering them with something lovely. As long as I've been painting, I have never found an easier or faster way to prepare my paper for the scriptures and designs. So each time I prepare to start the creative process, I know I will have to repeat these steps before I can begin. I simply take a deep breath and start with step one. There is no way to rush the process or simplify it.
Refining is like that, isn't it? The paper is already there in front of me, but it's meant for something greater. It's meant to showcase talent and beauty, surely a greater talent than the one I have to offer, but the point is it is there for a purpose. Simply being paper is not a purpose! Do you see where I'm going with this? God showed me through my creative process yesterday that simply being human, alive and present, is not enough! I am meant for greater things, and I certainly have the Artist of artists, the Talent of talents, to refine me.
The refining process we must go through takes time. There are multiple steps, and God will never put us through one step without being sure we are ready for it. Just like my paper must be dry before the flaw removal can begin, our hearts and souls must be ready before God will begin His next step. Maybe that's why the process seems never-ending, and just when we think it's over, we realize this was only a reprieve and the trials are back again; sometimes new trials, sometimes deeper struggles than before, but it does tend to make the process seem endless. It helps me to think of it in this way: the moments of reprieve are because God knows my limitations and my breaking points. He will never ask more of me than I am ready to give. But just I wasn't ready last week doesn't mean I am not ready now, and I can trust that God knows when I am ready and how much I can handle at a time.
Sometimes I wish God would use a different avenue of refining me, but just as I as a painter know which brushes will lend the desired effects and how much water will create the look I'm after, God has a thorough understanding of his art and his medium. I can be sure that He has chosen this brush or this much water for a reason, even if it seems some days that I might drown. And even if the avenues He chooses seem to create more problems, more flaws, and more trouble, I can rest assured that, just as I expect the pills to form from the first steps in my creation, God is not surprised when my own "pills" pop up during my refining. And He can much more easily sweep them away than I can with my bookmarks! Sometimes it won't be right away, because remember, the drying step is an important part of the process! The flaws and problems that have formed may seem permanent to me, as they do seem awfully "stuck on" as I'm drying and listening to the enemy berate the Artist. But God's brush is much softer and He has a much defter touch, and He can and WILL remove each flaw as soon as He can without damaging me or creating more.
Now here's the best part! God will now come in and choose just the right colors and flourishes, designs and scriptures, to lay on my life for display. I will now be serving the purpose I was created for... to showcase the artistry and magnificence of God! He will cover each remaining flaw, or turn it into a clever and priceless piece that adds to the whole of who I am in Him. Now I just have to be careful not to mistake the process for the end product. God's not through with me yet, but watch as I develop and I hope you will see His brushstrokes!
Heavenly Father, help me not become impatient with the process that it takes to showcase You! Thank You for finding me a worthy medium for Your talents. In Jesus' Name, Amen...
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