Our Beautiful Mess


God's love is the background to our suffering, constant and never changing.
God’s love is the background to our suffering, constant and never changing.


Messy?  DefiniteIy! Watercolors and girl drama everywhere!

I teach a Bible class of twenty lovely junior high girls.  They are too smart and thoughtful to accept simple Sunday school answers to their many serious questions.  Some of these dear girls have experienced overwhelming difficulties in their lives that have caused them to doubt the goodness and love of God.  Most, if not all of us, can relate.  I’ve been praying that God would show me how to communicate to them that they are deeply, lavishly loved by Him.

Over the weekend as I was thinking about this, I remembered two things: One was an art technique, and the other a lesson from Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God Bible study that I worked through years ago.

The art technique is called a resist.  By drawing with crayon or oil pastel before painting over it with watercolor, you can produce a resist–the crayon will resist the paint.    If you use white on white, and then paint over it watercolors, you get  a surprise effect, revealing the drawing underneath as the paint runs over it.

The wisdom from Blackaby was this:  View all suffering against the backdrop of the love of God, shown to us by His sacrifice on the cross.  When I consider the death of my brother at age 20 from a rare form of lung cancer, it still doesn’t make sense to me; but this one thing I know:

God has shown me His love and His grace through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  His love has been the constant for me; and though I may have been furious at God for allowing my family to suffer so much, I could never deny the fact of God’s love and sacrifice for us.  I might not understand suffering this side of heaven, but I know that He is good, and that He loves all of us because of Christ.  Whatever happens, keeping that as my background against which I see everything, I do not lose hope.

Before class, I drew the cross on Calvary’s hill in white oil pastel on four panels with white backgrounds.  Then I invited my girls to paint their sufferings all over the board with watercolor, just letting it all run down over the background.  They had many words to paint over the cross, expressing their loss, grief, and disappointments in life.  The resist didn’t show up as much as I had hoped, but isn’t that the way it is in life?  Sometimes it is hard to see the love of God in the cross of Christ behind all of our troubles, but it nevertheless remains, and we must look for it.

My little sweethearts seemed to genuinely appreciate the significance of the activity.  Their beautiful eyes were bright and glistening as they fought over who would get to take the art work home.  They are messes, yes–and so am I.  Our lives are messy, but if we look carefully, we might be able to see that our lives are a beautiful mess, painted against the background of the love of God.