by Emily Conrad
When I set out to complete a painting, I had no idea what would appear on the canvas. I had even less of an idea that the painting would get me to step back from myself a bit and deal in a new, healthier way with some messy emotions that had been haunting me.
In the aftermath of some hard situations, I wrestled with feelings of guilt and failure. Others pointed out I was being too hard on myself. With their encouragement, and since I’ve been working on this perfectionism thing for a long time now, I recognized my habit toward unrealistic personal expectations playing out once again. But it’s one thing to see that and another to let truth reshape how I look at myself.
While all of this was simmering in my heart, I finally got around to doing a painting of horses in snow. I’d had an image of what I wanted in mind for a couple of years, but I wasn’t sure I had the ability to pull it off. I worked for a while, and then suddenly, through shading that was more accident than skill, the painting gained depth and detail I hadn’t expected.
The final effect is good.
It’s not pictured in this post, however, because this isn’t really about the painting. It’s about the other creation in the room.
As I looked at my handiwork, I realized I was created, too. I’m God’s handiwork.
So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17, NET
For we are his creative work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we can do them. Ephesians 2:10, NET
If I look with appreciation at an inanimate object I smeared with paint, how much more does my Creator, who wonderfully made me (Psalm 139:14) and died to redeem me, look at me with love?
See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God’s children – and indeed we are! 1 John 3:1, NET
So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20, NET
Because I’ve put my faith in Jesus and surrendered my life to Him, He “clothes me in garments of deliverance; he puts on me a robe symbolizing vindication. […] I look like a bride when she puts on her jewelry.” (Isaiah 61:10, NET) In these garments, which Christ bestowed on me regardless of sin and failures, I don’t need to be ashamed. I’m covered. I’m clothed.
He’s paid the price for all of our failures–anything we could possibly criticize ourselves for.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1, NET
Because of Jesus, when God looks at me, He doesn’t look with condemnation. And the words “no condemnation” really ought to exclude us from looking on ourselves with self-condemnation, too.
Yes, we’re still being sanctified, and conviction, repentance, and restoration are still part of that. But because of Jesus, we don’t have to live in guilt and shame. Our works don’t justify us, no matter how high we set our personal expectations and how close we do or don’t come to reaching them. Only Jesus makes us right with God.
And because of Jesus, the thrill I feel looking at a painting I created is nothing compared to the powerful love my Creator has for me.
Each of us is one of His masterpieces, created with a purpose and dearly loved.
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