Tonight I watched an artist paint a beautiful forest scene. When he began the painting a sadness overtook my heart. The entire border of the canvas was black moving towards the center where just a small amount of white could still be seen. I knew what the completed picture was going to look like but it still weighted my heart to look at the black, suffocating canvas.
I thought I much preferred to watch him begin with a white canvas and place a beautiful scene on that blank space.
As he began with the pitiful bit of pink and yellow sky in the small white center of the canvas I thought – I don’t want to watch this process… I will have to stare at the dark, depressing shadows moving inward for too long.
But as he continued he explained his reason for the black base that overtook most of the painting. He would be able to pull more depth out of this painting than could ever be accomplished on a blank white slate. If you know something about painting then maybe this technique makes perfect sense but what I watched was magic as first small trees, then a river and little rocks and bigger trees appeared and each new creation pushed the darkness further away and gave the impression that one could reach right in to the scene and dip their hand through the running curving stream. The Autumn sky filled so much more than I thought it could and reflected light on all of the little bushes and trees. I knew what the finished painting should be but I couldn’t believe it when I was staring at all of that darkness. It emerged into one of my favorite paintings I’ve seen the artist complete, with more depth and magic than I’ve seen him accomplish.
The sentiment is easy to see : Out of a great darkness, comes light.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)
As image bearers of our Father, we are also light bearers. We have the creative artistic ability to shine light into this dark world and draw forth beauty.
There was a time in my life when I was on my way to a conversation I knew would be difficult and riddled with pitfalls and quicksand. As I headed out the door, I felt the Holy Spirit draw me back and direct me toward a book that was sitting on the table.
“I have a prayer for you,” I heard God speak in my heart. I walked over, opened the book and my eyes fell directly to these words:
Genesis 1:3, “Let there be light!”
It has become my prayer for the season I have been in and the strength and significance of it continues to illuminate.
“Let there be light!”
It was the first spoken directive from the mouth of God. I’ve never paused to really ponder this. He’s the God of the universe – all powerful. And He is getting ready to pour out His artistry, the symphony of creation. But first: Let there be light. Light is not a new thing here.
He is the light. (John 8:12) (1 John 1:5)
He is shining light onto the canvas – bringing up the lights on the cosmic stage of creation. Let there be light! Because He’s not going to work in the dark. (1 Peter 2:9, James 1:17, 1 John 1:6-9)
He call us out of darkness. He shines His light into darkness. He has called us to light up the darkness! We are not meant to work in the dark but rather, to illuminate it so the work of new creation can begin.
So this is what I’m praying now, starting with my own heart and then extending out to every corner of my life. “Let there be light!”
We are light bearers.
“You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)
We don’t get to walk through this life without walking through some darkness. But the deeper the darkness, the more penetrating the light. It’s not always an easy journey. But trust the artist. We have the final picture. We already know that He is working everything out for our good.