She came to Ohio from Florida with a paintbrush packed in her bag.
The Lovely Women's Conference had only just begun when Bonnie Joy Kelley was called on stage to the blank canvas set on an easel that waited for her there. As the worship team sang in the background, all eyes were on her as she dipped her brush in the colors before her and then kissed the canvas repeatedly with broad strokes that moved to the flow of the music. Mesmerized, we watched, eager to see what the Spirit was saying to us through the picture He was painting through her hands.
But our concentration on her activity soon turned to confusion as the accumulating images and colors didn't seem to merge into any recognizable form. For the life of me, I couldn't make out what she was painting. I thought to myself, What if she's just not feeling it tonight? What if she came all that way only to have God go silent the minute she is standing in front of 500 women, all eager to see what she will produce? Is it really a “gift” if she has to explain what she is drawing when she's done?
Suddenly the music seemed to be ending, and she likewise put her paintbrush down on the palette beside her. Then she took the canvas in her hands, turned it upside down, and set it back on the easel.
A collective gasp went through the room, for there before us was a picture of a woman lovely in every detail, reaching up with her hands as if in praise or grateful prayer to the God Who created her. Then came the applause and shouts of praise and amazement at what we had just seen.
More than just a cool way to start off a conference, there was a message in that moment that came to me later. Each of us is likewise God's masterpiece, our lives a blank canvas on which He is busily creating a work of beauty and wonder that will deliver a message of His love to a watching world. But sometimes in its creation we are hit with circumstances that we simply don't understand, difficult situations that fill our hearts with sorrow and our nights with tears. As Laura Story sings in Blessings, those hard times can cause us to doubt God's goodness and question His love. We wonder what on earth He is doing and if He really has any better idea how to work out our problems than we do ourselves.
Yet God pleads with us not to give up on the process before the end of the song! While the music is still playing, the Artist is still at work. And sometimes God has to turn our lives completely upside down before the beauty in them becomes apparent. It's then we understand that all the seemingly random brush strokes that we so railed against at the time were full of tender purpose and life-changing love... because the brush was held in the Master's hand.
“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.”
(Philippians 1:6 AMP)