I love watching Bob Ross paint his happy little trees. However, on occasion Bob will do something that really bothers me emotionally. What almost killed me was that Ross would paint a very intricate and beautiful mountain, or a bunch of happy little trees on a mountain ridge and then…I’m getting all worked up remember it…he would practically destroy the thing by putting a big fat tree that covers almost everything he just painted.
For a solid 10 minutes I’d sit there shocked and quivering and not able to enjoy my Fruit Loops while I watched this afro-wearin’ painter make something beautiful and then taunt me by destroying it. Then slowly…ever so slowly…I started seeing what he had already created in his mind 15 minutes ago. Suddenly what seemed like a disaster turned into a masterpiece.
Bob, you beautiful genius, you did it again!
I think the Lord paints the same way as Bob Ross. You get the idea from Ephesians (2:10, 3:7-13) that God is painting this beautiful masterpiece of redemption. He is displaying on the canvas of history a bunch of happy little trees that resound to his glory. At times it is absolutely beautiful and looks almost complete.
He does the unthinkable. He covers up those happy little trees with that squirrel-infested log it looks a bit unbecoming. We were comfortable with the happy little trees of buzz words like “gospel-centrality”. We thought the picture was nearing completion and filled to the brink with beauty. Then the Master decided to draw a big fat tree of emphasizing holiness right in the middle of it.
We did not know it but the canvas was not complete. It was missing something. And so He continues painting. Sometimes, in our view spoiling things that seemed quite beautiful only to emphasize something that at first looks detestable.
But He keeps painting.
With his Paul’s, his Augustine’s, his Monica’s, his Benedictine monks, his his Luther’s, Edwards’, Newton’s, Moody’s, Graham, Pipers. And covering them with his praying widow, his baking grannies, his humble maintenance men, and his weary pastors. Some shine more than others but all are essential. They each emphasize something different that would be an incomplete canvas without their presence.
History moves back and forth with each stroke. And often making a watching and waiting church quite uncomfortable. Yet, he keeps painting.
And when the Lord gets done with his painting, all of creation will sit back and say, Lord, you beautiful genius, you did it again!