“Ugh. My leaves look like thorns. I’ve painted a thorn tree!” I whined.
“What? No. You’re too close,” my friend Susan, who was painting right next to me, sagely advised. “You need to step back and look at the whole thing.”
My weekly Bible study group was at a painting class. Now, I have no artistic ability whatsoever. Seriously, I’m not being modest. I think it’s important that we recognize our spiritual gifts and non-gifts. I quit Art after sixth grade and took a shop class. Trust me, I’m no artist.
However, this painting class drew me in–probably because it was held at my favorite local coffee and sweet shop and included a free latte. And I have to say, it was a lot of fun. Our painting that evening was a willow tree. It was amazing to see how twenty-two ladies could use the same materials and get such vastly different trees.
Back to the thorns. With my nose inches from the canvas, this is what I saw.
But when I stepped back, I saw this.
It’s not great, so don’t pretend. The swirling leaves were an added touch I went rogue with. They were not in the original design. From this perspective, and with my rogue falling leaves, it doesn’t look as much like a thorn tree.
The point is, perspective changes things. In our lives, we sometimes stand too close to the canvas. We get too close to our grief, our worry, our schedules, our drama, our work, our parenting, our volunteering, our aging, our life situations and we forget that there is a bigger picture being painted.
I love the verse from Revelation that opened this post. God is. God was. God is to come. God is THE Almighty.
God doesn’t just see the complete picture, he IS the complete picture! But when we’re standing too close to ourselves we can’t see it. We can’t see him or the work he’s doing.
We see thorns. God says, I see a tree standing in the midst of a glorious Fall sunset. (And I’m not talking about whatever that is Sara painted!)
God shapes our lives with boldness and depth. He adds shades of brilliant color mixed with soft hues and rich earthiness. All that is and was and is to come stretches out before him in a dazzling mural we can’t even comprehend. And we only see thorns.
There is a time and place for closeness. There are moments when we have to be solely focused on the grief, the illness, the budget, the children, the aging parents, the work. But we also need to learn to take a step back. We need to work to see the bigger picture, knowing that we won’t ever truly see it all in this lifetime. We need to remember that we are children of the one who is, who was, and is to come–the Almighty.
Do you only see thorns? Step back.
Blessings and Peace,