Sunday, January 21, 2018

Bleeding edges

I, once upon a time, loved to draw and paint.  I truly loved pencil and ink.  Mostly because it was basic and stark and simple yet very expressive. But also because it was precise.  A pen or pencil put a mark where I put it and nowhere else.  That was very comforting to me.  Paint (I mostly worked in acrylic) was less of a joy for me.  I loved the added vibrancy the color added to my expression of reality or imagination.  But I didn't like how easy it was to lose control of the edges.  Blending colors on the pallet was fine. If a color didn't work you ditched it.  But once it hit the canvas you had to be quite knowledgeable of what color two edges blending (accidentally or not) would form.  I was not very good at that.  I truly disliked water colors.  One edge bleeding into the next is just about the name of the game with that medium.  I could never get it right. 

Watching an expert paint by blending colors on canvas is meditative for me.  Although I could never master it, I love what a true artist can do.  Edges effortlessly come together in new colors and representations that ultimately form a whole picture of what the artist intends. It is beautiful and sometimes even breathtaking.  I still, to this day, love watching Bob Ross paint. Yes, he was somewhat of a goofy hippie, but boy could he make painting look effortless. And the end product was always beautiful to me.

How would it be if instead of enjoying what the artist was doing I sat behind him or over his shoulder and started to shout instructions?  Criticizing him for making blobs and swoops and swirls and, clear to my mind, not having any idea what he is dong.  Worse yet, what if I grabbed his brush and started adding my own ideas to the canvas?  What do you think the end result would be?  Probably either a work of modern art or a punch in the nose!

Christianity is a bit like those bleeding edges to me.  I have always seen things in black and white. I liked neat, well defined lines and I regularly railed against or ran from any semblance of ambiguity.  I was comforted by definition and theological exactness.  But I am starting to change.  I am seeing now that Christianity isn't just a bunch of borders on a map, clearly defining where God is and where he isn't. Or who is a follower and who isn't.  I'm starting to see the edges bleed and I am beginning to enjoy it.  Not because it lets me off the hook from studying God's word and seeking His will.  But because I am beginning to trust that God is in charge and he knows what he is doing.  He knows how to blend edges, He knows how to keep colors separate and when to bring them together to form new, sometimes completely unexpected, colors. 

In short: I am beginning to trust God when it comes to the Church and the body of Christ.  He doesn't need me shouting instructions at him or trying to grab the brushes. I just need to sit back and enjoy.  That blob?  It turned out to be a tree.  That swirl?  A whole bunch of clouds floating lazily over a swoosh.  That swoosh turned out to be a distant mountaintop covered in late spring snow.  It turns out that the artist actually knew what he was doing all along.  Imagine that!