Saturday, October 31, 2015

letting go of our own versions of good and false idols of fear

Since Tuesday, I have put everything on hold solely to lay low and practice my watercolor technique.  I deliberately blocked out some relaxation time to wind down from last week's travel because flying always seems to take a toll on me.  So, yesterday my goal was to stay in my pajam-jams all day and focus on a few painting exercises I had gained from a classroom experience years ago.  In addition, I blocked out a few hours to watch some online instructionals from a few master watercolor artists.

As afternoon rolled in, I found myself in front of my computer absorbing the words of one well renowned painter whom I would esteem as most skilled in her field.  However, as I watched her teach,  I realized that we had a big difference in opinion concerning what we each would consider a "good" watercolor painting.  You see, as she was covering the important topic of how to make one's watercolor "picture" into a "painting"... how to work the whole of one's subject rather than simply focus all effort onto one small sketched section of a page... I couldn't help but feel like her small sketched examples were equally beautiful in their simplicity.  In my opinion, her example didn't need extra brush strokes or further techniques.  It looked just fine.

Suddenly, I found myself questioning her aloud.  Asking why her subject matter would need to be blended, blurred, and perhaps a little bit lost within the sum of her composition.  Perhaps that was her intention all along?  I wasn't sure.  But I was frustrated because her "lesser" version already seemed to be so much more to me.  From my vantage point, her "little" had already gone a long way.  Her small taste of something beautiful had satisfied my seemingly uneducated palette.  So why mess further with it?  Why insist on changing the subject that already seems "good" into something much, much better?  Surely it was fine as is.  Wasn't it?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9)

A few days ago, while Chuck and I were flying home from a family wedding event, I cried.  I cried the whole flight home.

Why, you ask?

Well, as other passengers slept, read their daily newspapers, and/or ate their in-air complimentary peanuts, I wrestled with the Lord over the genuine condition of my heart.  Through minor moments of turbulence, I tearfully gazed outside the window and watched the remaining clouds of hurricane Patricia sweep over the sky.

It was here that I struggled with the Lord through my fear.  Fear of flying?  Fear of losing control?  Fear of dying?  Fear of insignificance?  None and all of the above, yes.

Mostly, I wept because God had been challenging me throughout my whole vacation to let go of more... more of myself... more of my own way... more of me.  He exposed my ongoing anxiety and seeming authority as distracting idols that cause me to look away from Him.  Yes, my fear is indeed an idol.  My need to control is definitely an idol.  For I am more comfortable playing it "safe" than trusting God's sovereignty.  It does not come naturally for me to live limitlessly under the eternal promise of His grace, because frankly, His methods don't always seem so good to me.  His Way is usually the bumpy, unpredictable, and turbulent path.  Sure, He might yawn at the wind and sleep through the waves, but I panic... I fear... I flounder... I cling to the small, sketched subject matter that I already know and feel secure with.  It blows my mind to think His bigger thoughts.  To trust His plans more than my own.  To give up my comfortable vantage point in order to know His greater, more experienced salvation and love.

Yes, Jesus looks good as my Savior from a comfortable church pew safely bolted to the ground, but what if I followed Him further into the heaviest of storms?  What if I believed Him more than myself?  What if I went along with Him into frighteningly unknown space, allowing Him to skillfully teach me how to navigate higher into someone better resembling His new creation?  Could my heart actually blend deeper into His composition?  Do I want my lines to be blurred so much that all that remains of me is a portrait that displays His glorious image?

Yes, Lord.  Through surrendered tears... oh yes!

Yesterday, I watched the completion of a gorgeous work of art.  It was beautiful, breathtaking.  It was more than I could have ever dreamed up at my simplistically limited creativity level.  The finished painting was so much better than the inferior sketch that I earlier thought was the best it could ever be.  Why on earth did I question the instructor's proven ability?  Why didn't I trust the obvious skill and knowledge of the master artist?  Old habits die hard... but die they must if we are to grow.

How stuck we can become inside our own safety nets.  The devil loves to snare us back, to pause our progress, to stop our course.  But Jesus, our King Creator Teacher Maker, challenges us to soar above.  He invites us to join Him in places we could not venture without His teaching and leading.  He lifts us higher, makes us holier, brings us closer to His heart.  We must only be willing to follow His Way - letting go of our own versions of good and false idols of fear.  Giving up our make-believe ideas of control, and instead, actually allowing Him to rule our lives.  So, let us seatbelt ourselves daily into His Word and choose (ever so tearfully sometimes) to trust His ability to save us - not only from surrounding storms and trials, but from our very selves.

Yes, Lord.  Let me become lost in Your composition.  Create in me a clean, fearless, open heart that always is willing to give up myself in order to showcase you, the Master Artist... the Alpha and the Omega... the Kingdom, the Power, the Glory forever and ever!  Amen!

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
(Psalm 51:10-12)



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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