Last weekend, I went to a women’s retreat with my church where, among other things, we spent time painting to express what was going on inside of us and in our relationship with God. In our painting, we answered three questions. 1) What does your soul look like right now? 2) What’s blocking you in your life right now? 3) What does your next step in a deeper relationship with God look like? Given the nature of the questions and my lack of painting skills, it was a difficult exercise.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my life is in flux right now and I feel like I’m between two different worlds adrift on a sea of uncertainty. I blubbered to my painting group trying to explain my work after finishing it, thinking only of how dark it was with lots of black on the canvas. Surely, I looked like a crazy person.
After allowing the paint to dry, I picked up my picture a few hours later and it looked very different. I couldn’t put my finger on why or how, but it didn’t seem so bleak. Even a friend who was part of my group said she did a double take later upon seeing my painting again, thinking it was a different one.
When I got home, I unpacked my bags and explained what happened over the weekend to my husband. As I described the art experience, he said, “Oh! I thought your painting was day two and three of creation [separating of the waters above and below and sprouting vegetation, respectively]!”
And there it was. I painted three disjointed pictures in reverse order and my husband nailed what came out of my soul in one glance. I was painting creation, just not the external, but the internal spiritual formation that occurs between the shores of where I’ve been and where God is taking me next.
The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1:2
Creation begins with uncertainty and darkness. And as it occurs personally, a lot of fear. I love that Genesis mentions that God’s Spirit was there, in the darkness. It’s true for us, too. As we leave where we’ve been, sometimes all we can cling to is the fact that we can venture neither out of his sight nor reach. The darkness is as light to him (Psalm 139:12) and is at his command:
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3
All of a sudden, the light shines in the darkness. A glimmer of what is happening, hope on the horizon. A sign of how things just might work together. The process begins, but things are far from over.
And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day…And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day… And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day… And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day… And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day… And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day. Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31
My husband’s idea that I was painting two days of creation reminded of one of the most important parts of creation: there’s a rhythm. It doesn’t all happen in a day, but over several. The process gets more complex, the world more lush and vibrant with each passing day. Each step moves creation closer to what it will become when it is complete. Even when we see God at work in the process, it’s all too easy to forget that we’re somewhere in the middle, with more yet to come.
Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31
Though God paused to note how good his creation was at each step, it wasn’t until every piece was brought together that it was very good. There are moments of goodness in every season, even the pain of transition and uncertainty, but when we are able to take God’s work in as a whole, it is exquisite.
As you consider your own seasons of transition, I pray that you’d be encouraged by the story of creation as it is also true of you. God is in it. His grace grants us glimpses along the way of what is to come. He works in a process over time to bring more life, more flourishing in our souls. One day, when we look at his work in us, we will see that it is “very good.”
Oh, and in case the curiosity is killing you, here’s the painting: