So my life and my mind are a little bit tight right now as you can imagine. God is taking really good care of me, but this is the final stretch. This week equals long hours and constant brain work. By the time I get back home for the day, all I want to do is shut my brain off, eat and go to bed. That being said I still wanted to touch base with y’all this week.
For now, let me just say that God is really REALLY good. He wakes me up with reasons to praise Him. (Ask me about how next time you see me) Each morning these past few weeks he has spoon fed me the scripture I have needed to get me through the day. He has taught me to pray into and meditate on the scriptures he gives me. He sends encouragers to me throughout my days. He has been training me to put on the full armor of God each morning, piece by piece, before I leave the hotel. This practice has been huge in giving me the ability to endure through all the ups and downs and cheap shots thrown my way each day. I feel safe and refreshed. My soul feels like I’ve gone through a detox. There is a strength that surrounds me and courses through me now that I haven’t known before. I feel light.
I’ve been told that this community is quick to tear others down and only look out for themselves. While I’ve definitely seen that in action, I’ve also experienced something quite different. Many of the people here have come around me and become my biggest supporters. Interestingly enough, most of the people who spend time with me and look out for me here are either burned out or uninterested in Christianity and the church. I love them. I love what God is doing in their lives. I pray that this painting be the smallest gift they receive as a result of my time here.
The painting is coming along. This final stage is where I become a bit like the angst ridden artists you see in movies and read about in books. Think more Michelangelo, less Van Gogh. (I’m a little anxious and a little broody but I’m not about to cut off my ear.) The deep desire for perfection and the ability to see where it is lacking is what makes me able to create work like this. But when everything in a painting is missing just a little bit of that ambiguous something extra, it’ll make you want to throw a bucket of paint at the wall and call it a day. Knowing my plane leaves in four days when nothing feels right yet, definitely adds to the pressure and excitement. I normally have more of a cushion built into this final phase.
Part of the beauty with this painting though is that I get to lean into the excitement and off the pressure, because I know God will finish what he has started here. Through all the rain storms and all of my flat tires these past three weeks I have been able to rest in that truth. I rest in it now.
I’m not satisfied with where the painting is right now, but I’m not supposed to be yet. If I was, I wouldn’t have the drive to really sprint through to the finish line and give these last few days my all.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up… So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.” (Hebrews 12:1-3,12)v