Through the Lens of a Disciple
I asked my friend, who is an accomplished artist, if we could paint a scene together. I did not recognize, at this point, that I was stepping into the role of a disciple, one who follows a teacher with a desire to become like her/him.
I have just started to dabble in acrylics, but I wanted to surprise another friend with a painting of her favorite lakeshore view.
My artist friend graciously agreed, even expressed delight at the idea.
We set a date. I asked what I should bring. She smiled and said I should bring a hat for the sun.
This friend picked me up on the morning of this adventure and we drove together to the spot I had chosen. From the back of her van she lifted a little cart. I would soon learn that from this well- worn cart an array of supplies would emerge. An easel was pulled up and erected, a palate with a rich history was attached, brushes and knives were spread out as crowded tubes of paint were exposed.
This artist, now fully engaged, had already scanned the landscape and taken several Iphone shots. This was to determine the angle we wanted to capture and also to memorize the effects of light, which would change in just two hours.
We agreed on the boundaries of the painting. I then watched as she dug through tubes of oil paint. She quickly chose about 12 and squeezed them around the edge of her palate leaving the middle open for mixing.
Her first words to me as she picked up a brush were, “Now I’m going to freak you out”. This was said to prepare me for watching as she slapped broad swatches of pink and brown on the virgin canvas. I responded with, “I hope you brought another one”. The colors I felt the scene called for were blue water/sky and green grass.
My teacher worked quickly patiently taking me beyond my comfort level by describing the colors in terms of value, the height of images in terms of notes on a
staff and the need to capture the light source at just the right angle.
As I watched the hand of this brilliant woman transfer the beauty of the created world onto this simple piece of canvas I could only stand in awe. I knew, as I watched, that my vision of a joint project had not measured the distance between her abilities and mine.
With grateful humility I said, “I am not going to paint on this masterpiece with my hand”. Suddenly, all I wanted to do is watch in wonder and just be with the creator of this work.
This image that had no predictability for me was gradually transforming the colors and lines that meant nothing to me into a reflection of what I was seeing in nature. To fully appreciate we needed to step back a few yards. The details actually clarify with distance. (I want to learn more about impressionism.)
My teacher then honored me by asking me to decide if she was done.
The on-site work was done but the artist was not done with her creation. She carefully moved it to a safe place for transport and then explained it would need to dry for 2 weeks. After that time she would provide a frame.
She handled the still wet painting with tender loving care. It was, in fact, her creation and would be recognized by her initials in the lower right- hand corner.
As I reflect on the privilege that was mine to be a disciple of this creative friend my mind asks if this day holds teaching moments that transfer to becoming a disciple of Jesus. Let’s consider these questions:
When we start out wanting to do something with or for Him, do we recognize that we don’t bring anything He needs? Do we recognize that He loves for us to be with Him as He works?
Do we acknowledge that we need to trust that He knows what He is doing even when His first strokes don’t seem to fit our expectation of a finished project?
Do we listen carefully to His teaching knowing He is inviting us to enter more deeply into His work?
Do we recognize ourselves as His creation and remember that He is not done with us yet? Can we rest in the knowing that taking care of our process is near and dear to His heart?
Do we remember that His name was carved into us before the creation of the world and initialed at the cross? Do we remain cognizant that as a masterpiece we reflect our Creator?
Lord, teach us to see you through the lens of a disciple!