I stop answering emails, stop reading other people's stories, stop writing words of my own.
Because there's something that needs doing and I know it's going to take everything I've got just to see it through. But when I rearrange the furniture, make room on the floor for what's larger than life, the real truth is this: I've no idea what I've begun.
I kneel down beside all this blank canvas and I try my best to take a scribbled-out sketch and turn it into a tree standing 8 feet tall. It's not easy for me and a struggle long, but I give thanks, too, for penciled lines that aren't permanent and erasers big enough to hide all these wayward strokes. And when I finally stand back, I really can't see much of anything here, those lines too small and light to be visible from afar. But I'm happy somehow, foolish enough to think I know what I'm doing.
Yes. I am naive.
It takes three arduous days to paint every last branch of this tree, and it might be lost on me in the moment but I'll see it soon enough--how it takes three days to bring a tree to life and three days to resurrect a Savior from His grave.
And maybe this is when I suddenly realize I'm in way over my head.
Don't I already know that it's only God Who creates through feeble hands, not me creating anything at all? But I'm the woman who forgets again and again, the woman who's always surprised when God takes over, makes something beautiful out of all this mess of mine.
Yes, that tree might be the most beautiful thing I've ever put on canvas, but it's when I'm staring at it laid out across the floor--that's when the weariness seeps in, reminds of what's been true from the beginning. This body of mine, it's not strong enough to finish what's been started.
Those lines from which all this began, they come back to haunt and I've no choice now but to believe the impossible.
How could I have thought it would be any different here, in the trenches, me trying to believe in my own worth and this illness throwing me right back down?...only weakness draws all eyes
to Your radiant strength...
I lean hard into the arms of a God Who's always strong, because isn't that where all the weakness leaves us anyway? And I trust Him for what's not in me anymore--the strength to hold a brush for one more minute, one more hour.
So I start right there at the bottom, swirl the blackest black and the deepest purple together. Then I let blues and greens shift and mingle until this tree's growing straight out of the dark. I see that darkness covering the whole earth and all that water drowning out life until God Himself steps in and says, "Let there be light!" I see, too, that pitch-black cave in the ground and I feel the rumble of a stone being rolled back until there's no denying that Light has conquered all the dark.
And the green, it lightens up, gives way to yellow and orange stretching out across the horizon, like the sun God pulls into the sky on the very first day of this life--like the Son God pulls right out of the ground on the very first day of our Redemption.
And I let the red paint spread and cover every last inch of that final canvas, because the Blood of the Lamb, it covers every last stain of our souls. It was never Plan B. No, our redemption was clear right from the start, God creating the world and sending us a lifeline before we even knew we were drowning.
So when the colors are laid out and that tree's growing strong and sure, there's just this one thing left to do: Hammer in the truth like Christ hammered my sin into His own flesh.
My dad, he searches long in a tub of old nails to find just what I need. And when he tells me where they've been, I shouldn't be surprised. Nails that once held together the creche of a manger scene, back in my childhood days beside the ocean, their the ones I hammer in here to hold the truth together, to hold me together.
From creation to the cradle to the cross--yes, God really does hold everything together.
And God, He really is the same--yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
So I nail the words of a friend right into the heart of this painting. I start at the bottom, in all that darkness, and I work my way up. God of my past, my present, my future.
Maybe this is the story of creation and the story of redemption all mixed into one, but maybe it's the story of me, too. The story of all our lives growing out of the darkness, fighting and striving to open up to His Light and let the whole world see Him shining right through us. Because God's the only changeless One here, the only One Who's already complete. You and I, we're not finished yet.
And all this messy, hard, beautiful struggle to grow and change and be made new?
It's worth it.
I'm worth it.
You're worth it.
The Creator on the cross, loving us all the way to hell and back--yes, He says we're worth it. Now there's only this one thing left to do: Believe.
Please visit my friend Christina's blog to read her poem in it's entirety, entitled Thou Art the Same God:
Part One: God of My Yesterdays
Part Two: God of My Today
Part Three: God of My Tomorrows