“…paint on the whole canvas of your life” (Helen Parry of LICC)
This last month’s canvas of delicious warm sunny days with cool British breezes has drawn me to take time to dip into the pools of reading. The fare has been quite a variety – painting in many hues the colors of my mind. The atmosphere in our local neighborhood is more laid back in the month of August with the summer holidays and school break. So warmer weather plus restful quiet equals – laying in my new hammock and enjoying listening to the birds, smelling the roses and honeysuckle and curling up with a good book or two.
My small back garden has provided some delightful hours of this simple pleasure. No wonder Alice in Alice in Wonderland enjoyed reading in the outdoors, letting her imagination free to blow with the wind into all kinds of adventures.
So what does it mean to paint on the whole canvas of your life? Let’s ponder together. I know for the way God wired me, my environment is important to my sense of well-being. If it is dirty and overly cluttered with no thought in its arrangement, I feel overwhelmed and discouraged. That is why keeping my house tidy and inviting is so important to me, especially as a hopeful haven for traveling “pilgrims” on this journey called life.
For this reason, I choose warm rich colors and earthy textures, trying to create an indoor “garden” of sorts with sights, sounds, and smells to draw one to a closer walk with God experiencing His rest. The sentimental objects I wrote about before hopefully tells visitors that people matter and especially their journeys. I want my home to be “touchable” and interesting with thoughts and reflection viscerally-encouraged. I have pillows and snugly blankets to cuddle with, books everywhere, fruit ready to be eaten, music to play, films to watch etc. I want people to come, unwind and stay a while.
Now let’s go from external environment to inner life. Here is a quote from a thought provoking book titled, The Artisan Soul: crafting your life into a work of art, by Erwin Raphael McManus.
“The colors we use to paint our own lives splash all over the souls of those who are close to us.” (McManus)
So how shall I paint myself into my environment blending in? As the temple of the Holy Spirit, I want my lifemy words, my activities, my hosting, and my prayers–to be somehow like a jar displaying His light and love. Lord, help me to be Jesus in mama-g skin. With an open humble heart may I speak words of life to those around me. May the fruit be love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, gentleness,goodness,faithfulness and self-control. May I be available and open to interruptions, ready to listen and serve. May I be ready to make a pot of tea or coffee at any given notice with arms ready to hug, comfort and encourage. Help me, Lord to be sensitive to your signals.
A few magazines enter our home and one of them is now from LICC (London Institute for Contemporary Christianity), founded by John Stott . In a recent article in its magazine EG (Example Given) John Stott is quoted using an acronym…
“BBC: Balanced, biblical Christianity”
…which means developing a worldview that allows you to look at the landscape of life and be neither demoralized by the problems we face nor swept away in the enjoyment of life’s pleasures. (I am counting on all readers being familiar with the long standing BBC – British Broadcasting Corporation whose influence is countrywide and beyond.)
I find honest prayer and an attitude of gratitude goes a long way in creating that kind of relational atmosphere supporting the above worldview. I confess I am almost always an optimist searching doggedly for the silver lining on the clouds, but I also am ready to mourn loss with someone. It is a roller coaster ride – life. One day we can be soaring in the clear blue sky and then the next we are deep in the slough of despair from circumstances and losses that have shattered our seemingly well-ordered lives. Only holding onto the Lord can we remain afloat in this sea of ups and downs allowing Him to carry us.
“Love never comes without wounds; faith never comes without failure.” (Erwin McManus of MOSAIC)
2 Peter 1:3-9 is an anchor passage for me.
Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.
5–9 So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. [The Message]
So inspiring, don’t you think?!
Lastly, I want to share a quote from one of my beloved writers, George MacDonald. His novel, The Laird’s Inheritance, is rich with spiritual depth and inspiring characters from Scottish days gone by. Truth that is timeless. May this be my prayer.
“Make not of thy heart a casket, Opening seldom, quick to close; But of bread a wide-mouthed basket, and cup that overflows.”