Watching Bob Ross is soothing – not just for his calm voice and attitude, but also because every time you think he’s added an absolutely disastrous paint swipe to the canvas, the art still ends up looking fine.
Me: Ah, nothing could improve this tranquil secluded lake scene. It’s perfect.
Bob Ross: And now we’re gonna add a big ol’ tree *shwoop* right there.
Me: YOU JUST PUT A GIANT BROWN LINE IN FRONT OF THE WATER WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.
Yet somehow, miraculously, in half a minute’s time it seems like that garish, fat tree was always supposed to be in the painting. I can’t even remember what it looked like without it. So I settle contentedly back into my couch seat, pleased with the continued work until – “Tell you what: I think there’s a rock that’s gonna live right here.” (Bob…please…my heart…)
I’m a planner of (almost) all things. Even when I write creatively, I work out world-building, character development, and outlines when writer’s block rears its ugly head (which happens often). I need to know where I’m going, or else the journey becomes complete chaos.
But God has his own plans, and He chooses to keep the detailed outline from me. Personally, I think life would go far more smoothly if I was handed the layout ahead of time. (Or, as my boyfriend would say, the strategy guide. #geeklife) Why should God alone know completely what my picture should look like? When I become complacent with life and He swipes a great big line down the middle of it, I scream (internally; I’m an introvert, after all) and despair that all has been ruined.
It makes me think there’s a reason why these Bible verses are so often quoted: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28); “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) We humans must have a hard time really, actually, truly, legitimately believing God has a beautiful image in mind for each of us.
By now, I have several happy little trees decorating my life, each melding seamlessly into the painting. Does that stop my fussing? Of course not. Change is almost never welcome when I don’t have my hands on the brush. But in the end, that’s the entire point. As a Christian, I’ve given over the right to that brush. I’ve said God is welcome to shape my world as He deems necessary. Still, I have no tidy answer, and the process has been messy. But sometimes I still see a glimpse of glory – of a happy little painting – waiting at the end.
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity