My Unfinished Painting & My Unfinished Faith Race

How This Half-Done Painting Reminded Me To Keep My Eyes On The Race

This is the background of a painting I’m working on. It’s meant to be a background, a foundation, a first layer. I started this piece with unbridled excitement. It’s experimental, it’s a leap, it’s not like anything I’ve done before, and I couldn’t wait to see it finished. 

But something happened over the last couple of days, as I waited for it to be ready for the next layer. I became fond of the background. I became comfortable with it. I started to wonder if I couldn’t, maybe, just leave it the way it is.

It has a simple complexity to it. It reminds me of both the ocean and the sky depending on when I look at it. 

I like it the way it is.

Instead of excitement over the finished project, today I felt fear over losing what I have now. Even though it was ready for the next step – I left it as is.

But tonight, I turned my eyes back to the plan, back to the reason I began this painting. I started to dream again. I started to envision the next layers, to get excited about the original vision. Tomorrow, I'll start work on the next layer. 
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I have purpose in this life. A race. A mission. 

But sometimes I stop and I survey and I see how far I’ve come and I become fond of this place, this season. 

I become comfortable. 

Comfortable with my community, comfortable with my family, comfortable with my routines, comfortable with my habits. I forget the race. I forget the mission. I let fear freeze me. 

I take my eyes off of eternity and dwell on the temporal. And when my focus is here and now, the excitement is drowned in fear.

I have to turn my eyes back to the plan. I have to dream again, to envision the next layers of the journey, to get excited about the mission.

The difference between the painting and my walk with God is this painting could end up total garbage. I could hate it. I could regret the moment I turned my eyes back to the plan.

But I won’t regret turning my eyes back to eternity. I won’t regret adding layer upon layer of surrender. I won’t regret any loss or failure or pain associated with the mission. I don’t know how the finished product will look, but I know it will be a masterpiece.

As for the painting, we’ll see.

I'm Done Burying My Talents

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I cringe every time I hear the parable of the talents.

Something weird happens in my stomach.

My face is all crinkly right now just thinking about it.

I'm the servant who buried the money.  I badly want to be the one who invested and multiplied the master's cash, but I'm not.  I took his talent, held it tightly in my fists, put my tail between my legs, and sprinted off to find a good hiding spot.

God gave me a great talent for rationalization (still waiting to see how that can be put to good Kingdom use).  I can convince myself - and probably you - that the very best thing to do right now is to put this coin deep in the dirt, where no harm will come to it, where it will be waiting for the master when He returns.  But the real reason for the digging and the hiding and the burying is FEAR.  Same as the guy in the parable.  He was afraid.  I am afraid.  He is me. I am him.

I have written since I was about six years old - I started with poems.  And I kept writing.  Poems, stories, songs.  A lot of them I keep - tucked away in a drawer or in a box or in a file (I recently ran across a floppy disc with writings from my junior high years - those may be lost forever - it's probably for the best).

I have twice now reached over 20,000 words trying to write the same novel, and twice I have let it dry up.

I made a blog, wrote on it for an entire year, and shared it only with my mom.

I have been afraid for a very long time.  But I'm doing life a little differently now.  I'm getting my hands dirty, I'm digging up talents and starting to invest.  It is scary.  And also a little exciting.  I kind of want to do it more.

Burying is easy and investing is hard.

Burying is the coward's way out.  Burying is not humble.  Burying is selfish.

Burying is listening to the evil little voice who wants to shut me up.  Investing is telling that voice to shut it.

But people don't want to hear what you have to say . . .

You're totally right, billions of people won't want to read what I write.  This is why I don't plan on tying the abstainers to chairs and clothes pinning their eyes open until they absorb my words.

But you really aren't that great of a writer . . .

So what?  Moses sucked at public speaking and Gideon only had 300 men.

Everything I have belongs to God.  This includes my words.  He gets the final say on what I write, where I write, and who sees those words - not me.  It is not humility to hide them in a drawer, it is pride.

Go Do Something Little

Photo Credit: Kelly Cottier Photography

Photo Credit: Kelly Cottier Photography

What little thing can you do today?  What little kindness, what little comfort, what little gift can you give to another human?

Go Do Something Little.

Make a ripple, cause a crack, speak a word, and trust it will go on, it will spread, it will echo.

Go Do Something Little.

Chances are, a thousand little things will leave a bigger impact - a better legacy - than the one thing you're saving up for, than the one opportunity you hope will come.    

Go Do Something Little.

We don't need to be millionaires.  We can make a thousand people smile.  Make a thousand people's day.  Make a thousand people stand up straighter.  

Go Do Something Little.

On those days when you realize your own mortality, when your existence feels minuscule in light of eternity, you will inventory what you've done with your limited time here on this spinning planet. And it is the thousand smiles, the thousand days made, the thousand people walking taller - it is these you will cling to.

Go Do Something Little.