[Originally published as What’s the Greatest Gift We Can Give? – Part 3]
Sometimes the greatest gift we can give gives us much more in return.
One morning while reading Our Daily Bread, I had an aha-of-the-heart moment. Most of their devotions touch me, but this one caused me to tear up.
A pastor demonstrated through an unusual stunt how powerful God’s handiwork is in our lives.
He strode across the church stage and deliberately ruined a lovely painting that an artist had just completed. The artist, who was nearby, returned to work and patiently turned the damaged picture into a masterpiece before the congregation’s eyes.
The purpose of this staged event was to demonstrate God’s amazing grace in redeeming our souls.
I grew up in a home that had paintings covering the walls. My artist mother often had one of her works in progress set up in our dining room too. It never occurred to me to splatter one of her paintings with black streaks of paint.
So, when I read that this was what the pastor did to the painting on the stage, I gasped. His action caught my attention. When I realized it was a stunt, my shock turned to relief. And then something poignant happened. I thought of how my life had gone pretty well and been lovely in my youth until I became a rebellious-to-God teenager.
Black streaks of sin ruined what had been a good beginning of a painting God and I worked on.
My good grades in high school dropped when I dropped the ball I’d been bouncing well. Instead of graduating near the top of my class, I dropped out of class.
Thankfully, I eventually did graduate and go to college for a year, but that black streak still bothered me until I began to follow Jesus in earnest. He did the same thing that the patient artist did. He used the scar to accentuate the bright spots in the picture story He’s writing in my life. He’s creating beauty out of the ugliness I allowed to happen to me. He’s transforming what was lost into found treasure that I now use to write inspiration for others who are seeking full rescue from the deep.
When we believe God can turn the ugly stuff from our past into a beautiful picture story in the present, we give God a gift. He’s pleased when we believe the best about what He can do with the unpleasant things from our past. He’s not only the Giver of new life, but He’s also the Author of redeemed stories. What the enemy intended for harm, God uses to help us and to help others believe better.
I teared up during the story of the vandalized painting because I still have moments and make decisions that strike a black streak across the canvas of my life. Maybe an unkind word. A cold glance. Or an unbelieving heart when someone needs me to believe the best in them.
One of the greatest gifts we can give others is to believe the best in them and pray a blessing over them. When we do this, we bless ourselves with serenity because we’re leaving things in God’s hands.
After all, no one can wield a paintbrush or pen better than the Lord can. He’s able to compose an immeasurably more amazing story than we ever could on our own. Now that’s worth believing the best about.
Jesus answered, “the work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 NIV
And now, I’d like to close with a poem:
When Jesus was asked
What work God required
His people to do
He told them to believe
As the Way
And the Truth.
How have you caused black paint to be streaked across the canvas God gave you to glorify Him? Ask Him to forgive you, and then accept His forgiveness. (Even a bucket of paint spilled over a masterpiece is no challenge for the Master to clean up.)