I spent the weekend with a few dozen women at a retreat in central Iowa. I led three sessions, but also had a lot of time to sit one-on-one with my new sisters, praying with them and hearing their stories.
Over and over, I heard the same theme through their tears: "I never anticipated this."
Divorce. Job loss. Infertility. Watching your husband fade under the grip of cancer.
For every one of those women, life was heading in the exact opposite of the way they had planned. Yet underneath the tears, their hearts were groping for a reliable God who keeps His promises.
It's true: Everything changes.
"But You remain the same." (Hebrews 1:12)
"For I am the LORD, I change not." (Malachi 3:6)
In the back of the chapel, on Saturday night, I was meditating on our unchanging God. He's the steady Rock underneath all the shifting sands.
We watched and sang as an artist on the stage painted a picture with delicate strokes.
What emerged was an exquisite butterfly, with wings open wide, stretching from frame to frame.
Watching the artist, I imagined how -- even before the world began -- God stood before some great canvas, carefully crafting every detail of every one of us.
Before He painted the Grand Canyon or the most stunning sunset or the blush of trees in autumn, He painted you.
"Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love." Ephesians 1:4 (The Message)
But because we live in a broken and busted-up world, life gets messy. We lose sight of the beauty.
To make her point, the artist grabbed a can of black spray paint. And then she started spraying all over the masterpiece she had created. The audience gasped. I wanted to run up to her and grab her arm, to make her stop. I was so sad to see her wreck such beauty.
I imagined that's how God feels when I try to cover up the beauty He's made. When I cover the beauty up with the masks I wear, with my try-hard efforts to get it right, with my feeble attempts at impression management, with my stubborn refusal to obey, with my own sin, with my unwillingness to surrender to Him during the inevitable changes in my life.
I imagined God wanting to stop us when we cover up the beauty. But He doesn't stop us. Furthermore, none of this surprises Him. He is not shocked by the mess in the masterpiece.
Because underneath it all, He is still working. No matter what season we are in, God is at work.
He hasn't turned His back on us. He's turning something IN us.
Even in the midst of the mess, you are still a masterpiece. You are still the focus of His love.
I don't know what your "mess" is. I don't know what season of change you're in. I don't know what beauty you've tried to cover up, by pretending it was all okay. But I'll bet you know exactly what I'm talking about. You've been hurt by betrayal, by unmet expectations, by the feeling that you’ve been left behind, by the natural tendency of friendships to change, by children moving off to college, by something you regret doing, by unanticipated change.
There are two guarantees in life:
1 - Your circumstances will always change.
2 - Your God will never change.
After the artist spray-painted her canvas, she turned the picture around, to show that the painting hadn't been ruined at all. She had been painting on a window. It was even more beautiful than what we had first seen. What does that mean for us?
It means that the biggest changes in our lives are windows through which we can see God revealing His great glory. Underneath the mess, the masterpiece remains. He's turning you around. Just watch, and behold the beauty.
Last week, I finished a new book by Kristen Strong about change.
In Girl Meets Change, Kristen tells us that change is inevitable. But with Christ, she says, change isn't something to be feared. It is something to be received as a blessing from a God who is working THROUGH it, not in spite of it.
Sometimes, Kristen says, "you must leave the comforts of what is to embrace the potential of what will be."
It may look like the masterpiece that God made is a complete mess. It may look like it's all falling apart. But, like Kristen says, we have everything we need to handle that change, because we have everything we need in Christ.
To celebrate the release of Kristen's new book, Girl Meets Change, I'm giving away two copies!
If you’ve experienced change in your life, you’ll want this book. Change is inevitable, but thriving through it is optional. Every woman needs this inspiring message.
You can order Kristen's book in my shop, on Amazon, or at your favorite book retailer. To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter below. (Email subscribers click here to enter.)
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Hey Tell His Story crew! It is always a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Our featured writer this week is Marcy Hanson. She writes about when brave isn't easy and I am so encouraged and strengthened by the honesty in her words. Find Marcy here. To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. :) xo Jennifer