masterpiece top photo

Did you know you are a masterpiece?  I know many days I don’t feel like that – in fact, many days I feel like the piece of pottery that imploded upon itself on the potter’s wheel – all misshapen and unrecognizable.  But in God’s eyes, I am beautiful and loved and wonderfully made.  Ephesians 2:10 says,

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”  Ephesians 2:10, NLT

How does He create a masterpiece in us?

I was listening to the song Masterpiece by Danny Gokey on KLove and God graciously showed me the song mirrored the journey I am taking as I learn to paint.  This realization, like a painting, all began with inspiration (March 6, 2018 post).

The question is, though, what happens beyond inspiration?  Does the painting always turn out the way I envision it?  Is it as glorious and majestic as the image I started with in my mind?  Does it look anything like the one my teacher is painting in the class?

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As a novice painter, I would say more times than I can count it doesn’t, but there are times when I look at my painting and I’m doing my happy dance because it looks like the image my teacher painted – I feel like I nailed it.  There are other times when I feel like I’m less than successful and wish I had make different decisions as I painted.  When this happens, I leave class feeling unsatisfied realizing I have so far to go.  Then there are other times, when I leave and the painting is unfinished.  There just wasn’t enough time to accomplish all the steps – I’m not going home with a finished product.

Can you relate? I think we all can – we experience hills and valleys as part of life – the ups and downs as we navigate the path God set before us.  We would like it to all be smooth sailing – up on the mountaintop all the time – I know I would!  But that isn’t what God has promised – and how would we appreciate the mountaintop if we hadn’t also experienced the valley, even as painful and challenging as it can be?  Let’s look a little closer at the hills and valleys…..

NAILED IT!

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So what does it mean to be on the mountaintop?  I see this as our great moments when we’ve been tuned in to the Holy Spirit and we were obedient to do what He led us to do – we trusted and obeyed.  Like when we talked to the stranger we were prompted to reach out to or we gave sacrificially to the cause because we felt a stirring in our soul or we changed our careers because we felt God leading us in a different direction.  The mountaintop could also happen during a particularly moving service at church when we know without a shadow of a doubt that God is in this place – what a special feeling that brings!  I don’t know about you, but when I have clearly (or maybe not quite so clearly) heard from Him and I’ve taken action, I feel so fulfilled and joyful.

| For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17, NLT) 

| But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)

NOT SATISFIED……

We can’t stay on the mountain all the time, as much as we would like to.  The Bible says, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.” (Psalms 34:18 NLT).  So what are our valley moments?

not satisfied with watermarkI know for me, I have a valley moment when I know there is something I should be doing but I don’t do it.  I am too busy or too distracted or just focused on what I want.  When this happens, it’s frustrating and I’m disappointed in myself.

I want to do what is good, but I don’t.  I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.  (Romans 7:9, NLT)

At these times, I have to refocus and realize that I need to abide in my Savior – only by focusing on Him through prayer and Bible study and having a relationship with Him daily (sometime minute by minute!) can I give up “self” and serve Him more fully.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25, NIV)

Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  (John 15:4, NIV)

We can also have a valley moment when something bad or unpleasant or devastating happens to us  – or our families.  When things are hard and not going the way we had planned or envisioned – when a family member is very sick or we lost a job with no warning due to corporate downsizing or we are having financial trouble.  We may find ourselves asking, ” Where are you God?  Why are you letting this happen to me?

I had a valley moment like this last summer when my job was downsized and I found myself suddenly unemployed.  After the initial shock and disbelief, one of my first thoughts (before I even left my job site) was that God was getting my attention – I wasn’t doing anything bad in my life but I was certainly not abiding in Him and my focus was on me and what I wanted.  I believe with all my heart that God used this situation to get me back on track – because He loves me and wants to be first in my life.  Wow, He loves ME!

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”…..No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-6, 11)

I used the time while job hunting to get back into church and Bible study and prayer – my painful time produced a harvest that led me back to a stronger relationship with Him.

This doesn’t mean, though, that every valley moment is discipline.  Sometimes God allows things to happen to us and we can’t pinpoint why.  Just look at Job – he was a righteous man who lost everything  – except his faith in the Almighty!  We may never know why some thing happen because we aren’t God and we can’t see the bigger picture — this is where trust and faith in His promises come into play.  That doesn’t make it any easier, for sure, but it does provide that strong foundation when we know that our God is in control.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2, NIV)

And a verse that I clung to in my valley…….

| “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

Danny Gokey wrote Masterpiece following a season of pain following his wife’s death.  Even though it was a terribly painful time, he could see that God was making him into a masterpiece.

PEACE, LOVE, AND UNITY

Mountain or Valley?………

A finished painting by a master is surely something to behold.  As we allow God to create the masterpiece of our lives, sometimes we’re satisfied with the picture that emerges – those are times to praise and worship Him for His many blessings.

Sometimes we aren’t happy with the results or situation we find ourselves in – at those times we need to turn to our Lord God and rest in Him – rely on Him – and yes, praise Him for the work He is doing in our lives.  It’s not always easy but we can be confident in this, “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).  

So what about the unfinished painting?  More on that next time (Making a Masterpiece:  Are We There Yet?) ……… until then check out Danny Gokey’s video about creating the song Masterpiece.

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