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Unfinished Artwork & Grace

If you asked me to name number one thing I learned about during 2018, I would have to say “grace”.

And while it hasn’t exactly been flashing in my face throughout the whole year, when I look back I can see it intertwined through the small things.

One example would be the mural I completed at a coffee shop last July. As I wrapped up the mural, I brushing sealer over the painted wall, I made a note of all the small mistakes. Things that could be overlooked. Maybe a dot of paint out of place, or other small imperfections you wouldn’t notice unless you looked really closely.

I thought of all the people who had come back and encouraged me and complimented my unfinished artwork during the process. And it reminded me of the grace God gives us, His unfinished artwork.

As I made it through 2018, I realized more and more how imperfect and flawed I am. How many mistakes I’ve made. And as I mulled over this, I really struggled with feeling guilty and a little bit depressed. I was spilling my guts to one of my friends about it, and she said something like, “Sounds like you have a guilt complex.”

Um… a what?

guilt com·plex
noun
  1. an obsession with the idea of having done wrong.

Oh yeah, that sounds familiar. *Cringes.*

Guilt is something that’s easy for me to hold on to. Because in a way I feel like I deserve it. In the same way that grace is hard for me to accept, because I know I don’t deserve it. But that’s where the problem lies.

When I hold on to guilt for too long, it’s easy for me to fall into a guilt cycle. “Well, I’ve made this mistake, so what does it matter if I do this too? It’s not that big of a deal, really. I’m not hurting anyone.” Or so I try to tell myself. But I know holding on to guilt damages my relationship with my Heavenly Father. And after I’ve gone through the guilt cycle multiple times, and pulled further and further away from God, it’s hard to see how He can still offer me grace.

And yet He does, over and over. In the incredible way that only He can. Waiting with open arms when we turn around and run back to him. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son. Freely offering forgiveness and grace. I just need to accept it with faith.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

I kind of grew up thinking I had to earn salvation, forgiveness, and grace by being “good”, and it took me a long time to realize the truth in this verse. That I don’t have to earn grace. In fact if I could earn it, it would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6)

It’s not feelings of guilt over wrong I’ve done that makes me want to turn to God and change. It’s actually when I catch a glimpse of the truly amazing grace He offers, despite my mistakes, that I want to run into his arms, surrender my weakness, and fall in love.

There comes a point with each drawing or piece of art I do, where it doesn’t look like much. Sometimes it’s hard to see how anything good can come out of it. There’s always a point where I could give up, start something new. But instead I continue, seeing my unfinished artwork, not for what it is at that point, but for what it will be.

It’s a reminder to me, that we are His unfinished artwork. We’re not perfect, but He’s still working on us.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an excuse for us to walk around, excusing our sin by saying, “Oh, well, God’s still working on me.” We’ve got to remember that grace can’t be separated from truth, and vice versa.

To illustrate this, let’s say you commission me to draw a portrait of your mother, and I bring you this:

0108190645-1

Saying, “Yeah, I know it’s not perfect, but you just got to give it grace”, You would not be impressed. You’d probably look at me and say, “Chalice. I know you can do better than this.”

Sure, I might try to convince you that this is a “stunningly conceived masterpiece”, but even I would have to admit that I didn’t give it my best. And no amount of shading, color or expensive framing will make it any better.

The truth is that God deserves nothing less than our very best, but He also offers us grace for our failures and mistakes.

So the question I have to ask myself now is not whether God can still offer me grace, but whether I can accept it. Laying aside the weight of the guilt He’s already forgiven, remaining in His love and truth, and choosing to walk in His grace every day.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his grace continues forever.” – Psalm 136:1

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8 Replies to “Unfinished Artwork & Grace”

  1. Encouraging! This came at just the right time. I was awake till the early hours because MY guilt complex wasn’t going to let me sleep. 😛 I didn’t know there was a name for that.

    Like

  2. Wow … I’m LOVING your art blog! I’m an artist myself … although I haven’t been drawing/painting enough lately … but you’re getting me motivated! I love your Christian spin on it too … it gives your work a whole new dimension! Can’t wait to read more ❤
    power to the local dreamer ||-//

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I really love graphite and colored pencil portraits, and I’m experimenting a little with digital and watercolor and acrylic :)) I actually recently starting painting shoes and it’s a lot of fun! What’s your fav medium? 🙂

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      2. Oh, nice! I absolutely love doing portraits! 🙂 My favorite medium is probably graphite, but I also really like working in charcoal, colored pencil, digital, and acrylics. Would also love to get into watercolors sometime. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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