An artist sits on a stubby stool in a dark studio. The smell of paint permeates the still air, and a conglomeration of old furniture, yellowed papers, and old paintbrushes fills the tiny space. Raindrops bounce off the small window, which opens to reveal a dark sky and a grey city. In fact, the only bright spot in the room is the pure white canvas in front of the artist. He considers the silent canvas. To him, it is abuzz with infinite potential: he sees craggy mountains, their dramatic peaks rising to meet the setting sun, then a host of seagulls arguing over a crumb, the salty tide rushing in behind them. He sees children laughing and running through a field, then a portrait of a pensive old man, the reflection of all he has seen in his eyes. As soon as he sees each vivid image on the canvas, it is gone. The terror of imperfection crashes down on him. This artist knows he cannot create what he has seen. He knows that with a slight slip of his brush, a stray mark will mar the surface of the canvas. He knows he is too broken, too much of an amateur to be able to create what he knows the canvas holds inside. Nonetheless, with full knowledge of his lack of ability and his past failures right in front of him, he dips his brush into a vibrant red hue, and starts to paint.
Not all of us are painters or artists, but we are all humans made in the image of God, the ultimate Creator, and so we were made to create things and take care of things. Creating comes naturally to us, and we all have our blank canvases. White canvases come in many forms. If you have ever been assigned an essay, only to spend lots of quality time staring into the face of a blank Word document, you know the struggle of being a creator faced with an empty canvas. Sometimes, our blank canvases are big decisions. We know we want to do the right thing, but as we stare at the empty canvas, we do not know what to do, and can become paralyzed with doubt. For many of us, the future is our blank canvas. Filled with potential and with doubt, the future often holds so many unknowns that it can be overwhelming to even start filling the canvas.
Not all of us are painters or artists, but we all know the struggle of living out a broken life in a broken world. Sometimes, the partially filled canvas of our life does not make sense. We might see missing pieces, places where we lost things and do not know why. We might see scars on the surface of our canvas, places where we failed to live up to expectations or managed to hurt someone we love– or were hurt ourselves. We may live in fear, not knowing what is going to happen on the next part of our canvas, or feel that our canvas is far too ugly to be loved.
But know this, dear reader. God saw your blank canvas too. Unlike the painter, God is the perfect Creator, so He does not make any mistakes. However, He did know all of your quirks, weaknesses, and struggles before you were created. He saw the blank canvas of your life, stretching out in a billion different frames. He saw beauty in the things that no one else could even see. He saw the goodness in things that had yet to come into existence. He knows every defeat you will face, and every victory you will win. You are fully known and fully loved by the One who created you. He saw your brokenness and your pain, and yet He still created you. And the strength that comes with knowing that Someone loves you enough to not only create you, but also redeem you and have fellowship with you forever, can give you the strength and courage you need to face your canvas and make something that is broken but also truly beautiful.