Did you ever get a detention when you were in school? We are talking back in the day, we're literally going old school here. We are talking chalkboards in the classroom, not powerpoint or projectors even. I remember in some classes those chalkboards being wall to wall. And by the end of the school day that board was covered with a whole day's worth of words, sentences and illustrations. Layer upon layer of equations, problems and drawings. Half-heartedly erased throughout the day to make room for more. Detention back in the day was spent helping the teacher clean up the classroom. And one of those chores was cleaning that chalkboard. You were required to get that vast expanse of green slate totally cleaned and spotless before you could be excused.
Before I accepted the beautiful gift of salvation, my life was layered with words that hurt, sentences that condemned me and illustrations that portrayed my life as dirty and messy. Years and years of sin and separation from God had put me in a detention that no amount of scrubbing could get clean,I had no chance of being excused. The chalkboard of my life was one colossal panorama of hurt, mistakes and willful sin. Layers of darkness, anguish and fear crusted over with anger, and all my efforts were only a whitewash. What I spent years trying to correct, clean, and overcome God washed away in a moment. All of the crud, all of the sin, all of the pain, washed clean; white as snow. I remember as a child sometimes after a long day, usually during summer break or vacation that my mom would say, don't bother with a shower, just take a sponge bath. Meaning, just wash up a bit and then head to bed. You were still a little grimy and sweaty, but good enough. Well, God does not just do things good enough. He does things to perfection. When He cleans us up, there is no more grime. We are new creations. We are renewed, restored. We are clean slates.
My dad's sister was an artist. She sold many paintings and was quite well known where she lived for her beautiful landscapes. My mom tried to paint. She had some talent, and I think if she had spent more time with it she could have been very good. Now me? I cannot draw a straight line. I have absolutely no gift for drawing or painting. I greatly appreciate fine art, but have no skills at all. My daughter has gotten all the artistic genes in the family and is just beginning to develop those skills. Can't wait to see where she goes with it. Can you imagine being Rembrandt or Michelangelo? To have not only the skills, but the God given gift to put onto canvas what is only seen in your mind? To have the blank canvas in front of you and be able to pick up a brush and stroke after stroke it becomes a masterpiece? From nothing to something beautiful and priceless? To take a piece of fabric stretched over wood and transform it into something awe inspiring that captivates generations? You, dear reader are that blank canvas. And the Artist that has picked up the brush is none other than God Himself. And what He is painting is not some abstract mess, but a self-portrait. He is painstakingly replicating Himself in a work of art that has your face, your name. You are His magnum opus. You are His pièce de résistance. You are the representation of God that can inspire others, that can draw them to Him. Great art draws people in. A painting doesn't have to speak to captivate, it doesn't have to convince you to appreciate it. It just IS. God has made us to just BE. To be His autobiography to the world. To be His self-portrait. To be His love and His grace and His mercy. To be His masterpiece.
So back to school. Do you remember being told by the teacher to take out a blank piece of paper and today's assignment is to write an essay on some random subject? Did your mind just go blank? Oh the terror of a blank page. Where to start, what to write about, how to get your point across. I still feel that way when I sit down every Tuesday to write my blog! How to accurately describe what I believe God wants me to share. How to do my great big God justice with my words. And even with the incredible resources of the internet to collect and verify information, feeling as though I am going to blow it every time. Not to mention a computer that has more glitches that I can count, including today losing my whole post and having to start over. But that's another story for another day. Imagine having all the words, all the knowledge, all the truth and all you have to do is sit down and let it flow. That is your life story my friend. That same God who provided salvation through His Son has written your life story. He has all the words, all the knowledge and all the truth and He has written it all down. Starting with your name in the Lamb's book of life. I always thought it was pretty cool when I was in high school to have my name in the 'Who's Who of American High School Students'. Let me tell you, that book can burn up, it can be lost, it can be obliterated from every library. But the Lamb's book of life cannot be destroyed. And as a child of God, YOUR name is written in it. And guess what, it is not on your merit, but on Jesus' blood. And unlike those who would like to change history, as in those who declare the Holocaust never happened, or those who burn books, God is not into revisionist history. What God has written is better than written in stone, it is written in blood.
Whew, sigh of gratitude. This empty text box has been filled once again. By His grace and inspiration I hope I have filled it with words and sentences and illustrations that point you to Him. And that it shows you how loved, how precious, how truly amazing you are. You are not a mistake. You are not a piece of scribbled on paper to be crumpled up and thrown in the trash. You are not a canvas that has been painted over so many times it is worthless. You are a gem, a treasure. You are created by God, inspired by Him. Job 32:8, "But there is a spirit in man: the inspiration of the Almighty..." (KJV) That word inspiration in the Hebrew means breath of God. You have His breath in you. His Spirit in you. How can you be anything less than a masterpiece, His magnum opus.