“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are the work of your hand.”
Last week my husband Kurt and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to New York City. Visiting the Museum of Modern Art I found myself without words in front of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. I was unexpectedly struck by this particular painting, a work of art that measured six feet by almost 20 feet. It filled the gallery’s wall. Standing back from the piece, I could see an exquisite composition of water and pink lilies. I could see the reflection of clouds on the water’s surface. But moving closer I could see nothing but paint. At an arm’s length, the scene disappeared, leaving nothing but dabs of paint, splotches of color.
I wondered aloud to Kurt how Monet could create this beautiful, ethereal painting, knowing he had to have been working from a distance that left the final scene indistinguishable while the work was in progress. How had he been able to do that? I can only imagine that years of study and a passion for his subject had given him the ability to “see” through the end of his brush. He knew color. He knew how afternoon shadows cast purple highlights beneath a leaf, a petal. He knew how to capture the eye with a simple stroke of green.
I’ve had the joy of writing two books, both memoirs. I’ve been able to tell of a loving, faithful God through stories that have come together to create an exquisite picture. In the midst of it all when life was at an “arm’s length,” I often missed God’s work, seeing only the pain, the frustration, the unanswered prayer requests, dabs of paint, splotches of color that seemed too bold, too detached, too random to be part of something beautiful. I was wrong.
Claude Monet was able to create Water Lilies doing what he’d learned to do with wisdom, experience, and yes, even trust. When finished, he knew that he’d be able to stand back and see a beautiful painting. I want to do the same in my travels with God. I want to find myself a mere “arm’s length” from dabs of color, knowing that I’ll be able to stand back and marvel at God’s awesomeness.