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Faith Imagined: Watercolor Faith

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

March 27, 2011

Watercolor Faith

My spiritual mentor paints with watercolors. She has taught beginning courses in that medium, and she honored me with one of her originals. Painting with watercolors, she explained, is an interesting art. The artist sketches an outline that presents the path, but the diluted colors usually add their own forms and shapes along the way. The water in the color cannot be fully controlled, which can cause frustration if the artist is not willing to “go with the flow.” It takes faith to trust that the water knows what it’s doing.

Another difficult aspect of watercolor is that you can’t make changes. Once the color hits the page, there is no turning back. You can’t paint over it because the paint is too translucent to hide what’s beneath; and you can’t scrape it off because the paint binds with the paper. All you can do is learn to anticipate the movement of the water. The more an artist study’s the flow of water, the better she will become at working with it. The end result is beautiful. The sketches underneath are fixed, but the colors around the lines take on their own life. The entire painting is a masterpiece of skill, imagination and faith.

When I placed my friend’s painting only inches from my face, I couldn’t see the distinction between each object. All the colors blended into each other, and I couldn’t tell what I was looking at. However, when I stepped ten feet from the painting, I could see the objects in detail. How could that be? My friend explained that your mind completes the shapes by drawing conclusions on what it sees. I saw sunglasses on a man’s face and a hat on his head from far away, but up close it just looked liked smudges of translucent paint. I gained a better perspective from a distance.

My walk with God is a lot like painting with watercolors. I sketch out my plans, but God’s movement never seems to stay in the lines. When I look real close at what He’s doing in my life, I become confused and frustrated. His will doesn’t seem to make sense to me, and I don’t understand how it’s all going to work out. Also, I make mistakes, and I know they are erased in His eyes, but they seem to always be there on my painting – never fully covered over or scraped off. They appear so ugly to me!

But God finally showed me through my friend that I’m looking too closely. I need to take a few steps back and look at my life from His perspective. He is the Master Painter, and He knows exactly what He’s doing. He doesn’t take over. He allows my imagination and passion to decide the subject, but His Spirit does flow through the pages of my life. God doesn’t cover up my sketches or scrape off my mistakes; instead, He shows off by incorporating my limited talent and redeemed sin into His perfect design. He works with us to make a one-of-the-kind masterpiece; and we have faith that our paintings will be hanging on the walls of His temple, telling the story of His glory in our lives.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8.28 NIV).

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Blogger Haelie said...

Love this, Alisa!

I come from a family of artists and have worked with watercolors myself. Yes, it is very frustrating for a beginner! I love the way your mentor/friend describes it and how you have expounded on it here.


9:27 PM  
Blogger Shauna Renee' said...

Beautiful and blessed--thanks for sharing this perspective. I can't draw stick people, let alone do watercolors. However, I do scrapbook, and I think this applies there as well. The last picture I have of my daddy is blurry; but it is still in my daughters' scrapbook as a representation of how I'm sure their memories are: blurred but much loved, even from afar.

9:31 PM  
Blogger 4 Blessings said...

I LOVE this. Thank you so much for sharing this story. There are so many times I just need to step back from my perspective and look to God for His perspective.
Blessings on your week.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

Ah ... yes. The Master with the brush. And he's created quite a masterpiece in you. Your ministry of words is such a blessing.

Beautiful piece. Thank you.

10:01 PM  
OpenID bluecottonmemory said...

Beautiful! Perfect! True! Our mistakes becoming the building blocks to who we are - and those mistakes can be turned into something beautiful, something useful. I need to start having anxiety over every little pixel - and look at my life as a water color. Such a liberating, freeing post:)

10:46 PM  
Blogger Leah @ Point Ministries said...

In the good times and in the bad, it is so comforting to know that Romans 8:28 IS still in the Bible.

I love the watercolor thoughts.

3:07 AM  
Blogger The Unknowngnome said...

This made my eyes water with joy. What Truth you have painted in words! :)

When I enlarge the picture, just to the left of the fisherman in the center of the painting there appears to be a face in the water.
Am I projecting something into the picture that isn't there?

3:33 AM  
Blogger Stuff could always be worse said...

I love water color paintings and I love this analogy. God does see the whole picture!

9:54 AM  
Blogger Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

oh, how amazing is this post! i just love it - my life is a blank canvas just waiting for God to complete the painting. I can't see the end result, but He knows and He is working at it step by step.

Love you Alisa!

12:20 PM  
Blogger Connie Arnold said...

Great post! That's a lovely comparison between the watercoloring painting God's touch on our lives. Hopefully those looking at us when we have the Holy Spirit in our lives will see that beauty and design that God has masterfully created within us. Thank you for shining forth that beauty through your post.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Karen Lange said...

You always use such interesting analogies! Glad you shared this one with us. :)

4:26 PM  
Blogger For His Glory said...

Thank you for sharing. It was beautiful. I always look forward to what you have to say.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Just read a quote from Joyce Meyer that says - God doesn't want ability as much as availability. (my paraphrase). You are so right...God know our talents. We just need to trust and pick up our brush. Great post.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alisa -

Wonderful analogy!

I see my life in such small bits. Often as I look back, I can see His hand in various situations.

Susan :)

8:27 PM  
Blogger Tammi said...

What a great post! It's almost like an embroidery. . if we look at it from the underneath, we see a jumbled up, knotted up mess. But look at it from the top-side and there's the picture...with all the dark threads outlining and causing depth. . . a beautiful finished product. We'll never fully know what the end result of our lives will "look like" until we reach heaven...but God does give us time to "soar as eagles" and gain a new perspective on circumstances. If only we'll wait on Him, He'll renew our strength, and cause us to soar high above the circumstances and see a broader perspective--perhaps more like His own. :)
God bless!

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Renee Ann said...

Love this metaphor! It reminded me of the verse: "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand . . . " (Ephesians)

3:29 AM  
Blogger Deborah Ann said...

Whoa, beautiful post, Alisa! What a great analogy of looking at our lives through the Father's eyes. To us it looks blurry, but to is definitely clear as a picture.

You asked about my son, if we have a video. He has one, and as soon as he gets home I'll ask for a copy. He's a nut!

12:32 PM  
Blogger Toyin O. said...

Amen, there is peace in surrending my life to the master painter. He knows how to work the good, bad, and ugly into the phenomenal path he has for me.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

Beautiful pictures are passing through my mind after reading this :) I feel very connected to this imagery. As a boy a read some Tolkien and he one of his works he describes creation and our lives as flowing musical notes. I felt kinship with that picture and the power behind it. This brought that memory back and I am grateful for it :)

2:13 PM  
Blogger Missie said...

I love this! Thank you for sharing! I love how other bloggers seem to be going through the same spiritual situation as I am. It is nice to have such a large, caring, encouraging family!

9:32 AM  
Blogger Sharon Kirby said...

Love, love, loved this one.

I have always enjoyed watercolor paintings - it was very interesting to hear about the process from someone who works in that medium.

And I really appreciated the spiritual lesson you brought out of it, Alisa.

I've got some stuff that I can't figure out right now at all. Maybe I'm just standing too close...


4:45 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Love you blog! I think you and I may be kindred spirits!
I especially liked the sentence "God doesn’t cover up my sketches or scrape off my mistakes; instead, He shows off by incorporating my limited talent and redeemed sin into His perfect design." God truly is awesome. Thanks for sharing your faithwalk.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Jan Christiansen said...

Why is it we so often try to wrestle the brush out of God's hand as he paints the picture of our life?

The hardest part of life is relaxing and letting HIM be in control.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Lovely, lovely

6:31 AM  
Anonymous Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Now I understand why I was never good at watercolor. This is a beautiful illustration, Alisa. I'm going to print it out and share it with my women's Daybreak this week. It will bless them! I'll send them your way.

So appreciate your heart for the Master Painter.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Michael Manning said...

What a magnificent correlation! I agree, Alisa!!

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Essay Writing said...

Your painting is really neat & clean.. love it.. Keep your art work on..

6:59 AM  

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