Paint By Numbers

I've been thinking a lot lately about how hard it is to predict the future.  And by "hard," I mean "impossible."  Invariably, when facing life's challenges, we want clarity on which path to take, but clarity is almost always hard to find. 

I've decided that some chaotic seasons of life can feel like one of the many paint-by-numbers paintings I remember my mom working on when I was a small child.  

I distinctly remember watching her as she sat at our kitchen table, slowly and painstakingly filling in the painting with the paint colors that matched the numbers on the black and white drawing stenciled on the canvas. 

Over time, the colors that were added together would reveal the makings of a painting, and then eventually, the finished product would be revealed.  I recall one of those paintings was of a cowboy on a horse and another of a landscape with a mountain and a stream.  

It felt like magic to me when I was small.  I would sit there waiting for the next color to be added and the next, excited to see what the vague sketch would turn into once it was done.  

Today I read a great quote from Melody Beattie in one of my devotional readings. She wrote about how hard it is to be patient when you can't see the outcomes of what you're dealing with in life at times, especially when everything feels chaotic:  

Sometimes the picture isn't finished yet... Let the pieces be. Let yourself be.  Let life be.  Sometimes, chaos needs to precede order.  The pieces will come together in a picture that makes sense, in a beautiful work of art that pleases.  

I can't tell you how much I love that quote.  

I'm also grateful that reading it made me remember those moments with my mom. It also made me think about how patient she was about letting the pieces of life's pictures fall into place instead of spinning and worrying over them. 

One of the many "pictures" of her life that she waited patiently for the pieces to fall into place was me. 

For far too many years, I struggled to be responsible in life.  I lived carelessly and without a lot of concern for my own well-being.  I gave zero indications that I would ever find my way. 

And yet, my mom waited. She let me be.  She surrendered the outcomes when it came to my life.  And through it all, I knew that no matter what, she loved me, was there for me, never gave up on me, and was always a safe place to land. 

I'm nowhere near where I need to be as I strive to be a better person, but I'm closer than I deserve because my mom refused to walk away before the picture was revealed. She embodied the grace of God. 

God is patient with us and never seems to tire from letting the pieces of our picture fall into place in God's time.  

I  find such strength in that knowledge and in the beauty of the grace it leads us to if we are willing to be shown. 

May you experience that grace today, especially if you can't see the big picture yet and are struggling to see how the color you are filling in serves to create a work of art.  

May you find the patience to wait, allow the chaos to subside, and for the beauty of it all to overwhelm you.  May you trust the original Artist, whose designs for our lives are intricate, lovely, and full of wonder. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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