It’s hard to see the big picture when I can only see how important this one brushstroke is for me to make. When I grasp the brush and believe I should be the master of my canvas. And when I wander out on my own, I believe I know where I am going and where I will end up. But in that thinking, I’ve become narrow minded. My tools and palette, my steps and determination will be limited to only my imagination and not God’s inspiration and it is infinitely unlimited. When God dips his brush into the paint of His plan and touches the canvas of my heart, it’s hard for me to understand what will come of it. But, somehow, each stroke, no matter the color or method of applying it, is always beautiful and for my best. And when I see God leads my journey, that each step is an ordered part of His plan… the steps have divine purpose. I see my own determination was really wandering away. He knew where I’d end up and He is always there to meet me.
The brokestrokes and steps, done one at a time by myself, seem consuming and take so much energy to make. Maybe I need to stand back and let go and look at what God’s been doing up to this point. Looking back… to look forward. Looking to the Master artist and Great Shepherd for instruction, inspiration and direction to keep painting, to keep journeying.
I see this huge dark part, it takes up so much space on the canvas. It’s been a distraction, a part of the painting that doesn’t seem to fit. But as I step back I see it’s a backdrop it sets off the other colors. Those beautiful things those colors represent, what would have been lost if not for the background behind them.
How like life. I get so lost in the dark places, pressing on just hoping for a little light a little clarity and a little hope in each step. I fight the sadness and pray for peace. I keep reaching out in the darkest for a hand that is beyond the fog. Praying Jesus hand touches mine and with it there is light. At some point I’ll look back and see that looming cloud of darkness and the brilliance of color that is now reflected upon it. I’ll see it as a background, not a foreground.
Now and then I walk into a patch of darkness. Not that I went back to that original darkness. But rather, my journey has lead me to a new valley where the fog is thick and it’s hard to see. I believe it’s so that I might cry out and plead for my good Shepherd, so that He can remind me again of His faithfulness. It often takes the valley journey to draw us away from ourself, into a place where He becomes all we need, our only focus. He pulls me through the mist of the valley and as the most faded away…. He points out the view and it’s spectacular.
We aren’t called to camp on mountaintops and likewise aren’t called to have a permanent dwelling place in the valleys of this journey. We are called to be sojourners. Always traveling always taking steps closer to our heavenly home, always reflecting the Master’s work in us and always following the Good Shepherd. Even when some steps lead us through the valley of the shadow, so dark and sad. A place where the mundane of everyday makes makes us drag our feet. A place that can enhance the weight of our sin and the terrible sadness and pain of living in a world that waiting for the tears to be wiped away. Remebrr thi hope… the valley is a place of refining… where all that we experience there removes that which stood between us and a loving Savior. The dross is burned away in valley journeys to reveal what was underneath, fine gold, that is valuable and precious in the hands of Jesus. He promises to never leave us there and provides His tender, nail-scarred hands as a way out.
Some steps lead us to heights of glorious beauty and our souls are filled with hope and gladness as we take in just a glimpse of heaven. This is a place of renewal, a place to be still just long enough to begin our journey again.
I hope all these random thoughts, come out in such a way that only God’s light is reflected. I pray it encourages you to seek the tender scarred hand of Jesus in your valley. This passage is what I want to be. As His redeemed who desires to reflect Him….
Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land. Isaiah 32:2
It’s taken me several months to write this… over the course of a valley and mountain and valley again. May God take my offering and use it. Let Him be your courage and strength.