When I Finish
Many of you have probably read or heard the story of the little boy who was busy drawing a picture on a sheet of paper. “What are you drawing?” his mother asked.
“I’m drawing a picture of God,” the little boy replied matter-of-factly.
“But, we don’t know what God looks like,” countered his mother.
The little boy thought for a minute and then replied, “Well, we will when I finish my picture!”
While we can all smile at this little story, it can also cause us to stop and think about the picture of God we’re painting with our lives. What does the God you and I profess to believe look like in your life and mine?
Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told His disciples: “ But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The disciples were first-hand observers of all that had happened. Through the Spirit’s power, they could tell others about Jesus’s life, the things He said and did, and about His death, burial, and resurrection.
While you and I were not there with Jesus and, therefore, cannot give a first-hand witness like the early disciples, those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior do have a story to tell. Through the work of the Spirit within us, we can tell others about Christ and what He has done for each of personally, the difference He makes in our lives. But oftentimes, the lives we live say much more about Jesus than the words we speak.
People who are lost need to hear about Jesus, but often it’s how they see Him portrayed in your life and mine that makes them really want to know Him (or not). Jesus taught: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Paul taught the Philippians to “become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). When we follow Christ, obey His teachings, and live a life that honors Him, we can help others see Christ. Love, joy, and peace replace hatred, contentions, and all kinds of wrath. Goodness, kindness, gentleness, and patience replace selfishness, envy, jealousy, and evil striving. (See Galatians 5:19-23.) When we put our faith in Christ and obey the Holy Spirit living within us, others will see a difference in your life and mine, a difference that can witness to those without Christ.
Yet, it is also true that when I profess Christ, but fail to live as Jesus calls me to live, I can actually cause others to turn away from Him. Paul warned the Galatians: “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:24-26). Such actions keep others from truly seeing Christ.
I can’t help but wonder how God looked in the little boy’s finished picture. More than likely it reflected a lot of those things he had learned about God. Perhaps God had a big smile and open arms because the little boy had heard that God loved him and cared for him. His picture may have shown God big and strong because he had learned that God could do anything. Maybe he was in the picture with God, perhaps holding God’s hand.
In much the same way, we paint a picture of God as our lives reflect the God we know. When we experience God’s unconditional, amazing love and allow that love to transform us, we cannot help but show that love to others. When we learn that God does not forsake us in the hard times, but that He’s right there with us, we exhibit a faith in God that invites others to learn more about this God we know. Everything we go through, every battle, every pain, every joy offers opportunities to better know, and to reflect to others, the One who doesn’t just help us through life, but who makes life worth living. And little by little, day by day, we add new details and new brush strokes to the picture we’re painting of Christ. How I hope that my picture continues to more and more reflect the Christ I know. And then, one day, when Christ calls me home, when I finish that last detail and it’s time to lay my brush down, oh, how I hope I can say, much like that little boy – “Now they’ll know what God looks like – when Christ finishes my picture!”
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
(2 Corinthians 3:18)