I took an art class in college. The main objective of the class was to help us learn contrasting angles and light, and how to use those to create an image. Usually we would come to class and there would be a still object in the middle of the room for example: a stack of boxes, or different sized buckets stacked on or leaning against each other. Never anything fun, and thankfully, never any nude models! (After all, it was Baylor ) We would set our easels in a circle around the object and we would each draw what we saw from our perspective, focusing especially on angles and shadows. We would work on each still image for a couple of weeks. At the end of the project our professor would display everyone’s interpretation of the image from the different perspectives so that we could see how each person saw that image from a different angle. It was interesting how the person standing next to me captured something so different from what I saw; yet we were maybe three feet apart from each other.
One day we came into the art studio and all of our easels were moved and there was no still image in the middle of the room. There was a projector in one corner of the room and all of our easels were set up in front of a large screen. Our professor informed us that she felt like we were having a hard time drawing what we saw instead of what we knew that object to look like. For example, we would draw a stack of boxes based on the fact that we knew boxes were squares or rectangles but she wanted us to see the many other facets of the boxes. She wanted us to use the light and dark of the shadows to create our lines instead of drawing hard lines, and only creating a flat one-dimensional image. So, she wanted to do an exercise that day to help us draw just based on light and dark. She had the projector set up and everything was out of focus. All we could see was a black spot on the screen. She said, “I am going to give you a few minutes to just draw the dark areas that you see. Every few minutes I will bring the image into focus a little more. By the end of class you will have drawn an image without ever actually seeing the image you are drawing.” At first, I hated this exercise. How am I supposed to draw something if I have no reference point? How large is it going to end up being? Where do I start on my page? etc. I was literally starting with a black dot on a paper. That could go anywhere!
Obviously, I didn’t have a choice, so I did it. By the end of class, I thought it was a super cool idea! Ha Even when the image was almost completely into focus I had stopped trying to figure out what the image was going to be and was just looking at the light and dark areas. I had stopped looking for the image itself and was looking for the new area that had come into focus. When the professor came up and said, “Ok, now look at your paper, what have you drawn?” I was amazed that it actually looked like something. I had drawn an army truck. Was it the best army truck I could have possibly drawn? No. However, I had drawn it completely based on drawing black spots and lines that I saw on a blurry projector! That was pretty impressive to me. After that exercise it really changed the way I approached drawing from then on. I saw the still images with a new perspective. Instead of studying the whole image and drawing what I knew it to look like; I went line by line until the whole image was drawn, paying close attention to the details that would eventually make up the whole.
Often times on my journey with the Lord I think about that blurry projected image. How often does it feel frustrating that we are going through life really wanting to see the whole picture, however it just feels like we get a dark spot here or maybe a line there? I want to say, “You know what God, I can handle the whole picture!” But we can’t. You see if we saw the whole picture we would try to create the image, for our life, based on what we think that looks like. Just like those boxes. For example: maybe you feel like you’re an entrepreneur and you can’t understand why God has you working at a job, building up someone else’s company while you should be building your own company. Or maybe you’re a mom at home raising your kids and you’re saying, I never saw this for myself. I saw myself as a successful career woman and someone my girl’s could look up to and aspire to be! But maybe, like Joseph, God wants us to take a very different path that doesn’t look at all like our final destination.
Do you know the story of Joseph? The very short version of a very long story is: Joseph had a dream that his brothers would bow down to him. His brothers didn’t like that so, they sold him into slavery. While he was in slavery he was accused of trying to sleep with Pharaoh’s wife and was thrown in prison. While in prison Joseph interpreted a dream, for a man, and said that in 3 days he would be taken out of prison and given his job back as the kings cup-bearer. Joseph asked that man to remember him and what he had done for him. The man totally forgot about what Joseph had done for two years. One day, Pharaoh needed a dream interpreted and the man FINALLY remembered Joseph. Joseph interpreted the Kings dream and he was promoted as the King’s second in command He was given as much power as the king himself. His interpretation of the dream saved their land from going into famine and provided for other surrounding areas, which made the king very wealthy. In the process his brother’s came to buy grain from Egypt. Joseph was in charge of selling the grain so his brother’s bough it from him. When they met him they bowed down to him, fulfilling his dream from many years earlier. When his brother’s found Joseph was still alive and it was Joseph who they were standing in front of, they felt horrible. However, Joseph had no bitterness towards them (even though he did mess with them a little bit), why? In Genesis 45: 7&8 Joseph explains “7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.[a] 8 So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.” Joseph’s life did not take the journey I would have assumed it would take based on the dream he was given. He felt, based on his dream that he was going to be king or rule the land. However, he was a betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, and imprisoned before he ever saw his dream fulfilled. Yet, he carried no bitterness because he had the right perspective. He knew that it was all part of God’s plan for his life and that his brother’s were just dark spots in a blurry picture, that would eventually create something historic.
I can’t predict your situation or His reasoning behind what you’re going through. However, I have thought too many times, “Wow I never thought that situation would lead me here.” I firmly believe if we will stop focusing on what the picture is supposed to look like and just focus on drawing what is in focus right now, we will be amazed at the picture we are drawing. It may not look perfect. It may not be the best version, because some times we get it wrong. One day we will step back from our life and say, “Wow, I had no idea what I was drawing. I just kept taking steps of faith. They didn’t always make since, and I had no idea what one step had to do with the next. But now, looking back, I’m so proud at what I’ve drawn from just those small incremental moments of clarity.”