Masterpiece Versus Paint By Numbers 2022

During this past December, the LORD began speaking to me about a new approach towards troubling situations while my husband and I were dealing with a family crisis. I felt the LORD telling me I frequently take a “paint by numbers” versus a “masterpiece” attitude when trouble arises. With this revelation, I realized I needed to change my approach not only towards the current challenging situation but to those arising throughout the upcoming year. On a chilly and dark mid-December morning, hours after becoming aware of the family situation, I sat with my Bible opened to Psalm 34:4 “I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” For many years when facing challenges, I have gone to this verse and poured out my heart to Him, honestly sharing my fears, frustrations, and concerns. And every time, He has proven Himself faithful. However, prior to lifting up the montage of my fears, frustrations, and concerns, I paused and read Psalm 34:1-3 “1I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. 2I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 3Glorify the Lord with me: let us exalt his name together.” After reading this passage, I felt the LORD telling me I frequently live my life by a situational crisis or paint by numbers approach, but I needed widening of my focus when trouble approaches. For years, when problems arose, I would pray and ask His intervention within the troubled area. This is akin to the technique used in a paint by numbers portrait, the “correct color” is placed in the indicated spot on the canvas. Through all of my trials and troubles over the years, He has lovingly brought me through them. Typically after emerging from the trouble, I would offer up a quick thanks to Him, decide all is well, and move blissfully forward until unraveling at the next “paint by numbers” situation. Living life by with a paint by numbers approach means superficially appreciating the LORD as the Master of all and acknowledging His creation is His masterpiece. Daily for years, I have had quiet time with the LORD, and sporadically throughout the day, I would lift up quick prayers. It is humbling admitting during trying situations I approach my quiet time and prayers with much greater intention and fervor. If I desire to have a masterpiece versus paint by numbers approach, I need to take Psalms 34:1-3 to heart. The instructions in this scripture are to extol, praise, and exalt His name at all times whether our situations are mundane or riddled with great strife. Continually extolling, praising and exalting His Name helps us appreciate the Master and richly understand we are created in His image (Genesis 1:27) and are part of His masterpiece. Thus, we can trust Him to guide, protect, and provide for us on both the dark and gloomy days and those filled with sunshine. Maintaining a position of continual praise of the LORD helps us build a solid foundation much like the person Jesus describes in Luke 6:48: “When a flood came, the torrent struck the house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” Choosing a masterpiece versus paint by numbers approach involves regularly and intentionally becoming better acquainted with the Master. The first step is accepting Jesus as LORD and Savior of our lives. This simple but vital step is explained in Romans 10:10 “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” After that it can involve daily searching His Word for attributes describing Him, reflecting on those scriptures, and expressing gratitude for being loved so deeply by the One possessing countless amazing characteristics. In faithfully doing this, we add a sense of sparkle and celebration even on those routine and unremarkable days. Plus, during turbulent times, it enhances our ability to quickly recall He is trustworthy (Psalm 145:13); the One even the wind and waves obey (Mark 4:41); and our rock, fortress and deliverer (Psalm 18:2). Regularly focusing on His attributes also helps us when dark and worrisome thoughts start clouding our consciousness. Focusing on His attributes instead of the negative ones redirects our thoughts to “… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8).” Another consideration of a masterpiece approach is understanding the Master does not need anyone to add to His completed work at Calvary related to salvation. John 19:30 records Jesus’s final words before death on the cross as “It is finished.” If a painting by Rembrandt, Monet, Michelangelo, or any of the great artists suddenly came into our possession, it would be very unlikely we would grab a paintbrush and start adding to the masterpiece. Because it is considered a finished work, we would instead put our efforts to the ancillary work associated with owning such a precious piece of art such as obtaining insurance, hiring security, and determining the optimal place to display it. This mindset can be applied to our Master. The work Jesus did at the cross is complete and there is nothing we can do to add to or take away from it; all we can do is accept the gracious gift of His sacrifice. Just as for an owner of an art masterpiece, there is also ancillary work for believers. This includes praying, faithfully reading His Word, and helping others to know Jesus. While paint by numbers can be a fun and relaxing pastime for aspiring artists, it is not the optimal approach for starting a new year. Being intentional about having a masterpiece versus paint by numbers approach helps us be securely anchored to His promises whether the day is bright and sunny or stormy. And, as for the recent family crisis the LORD within 72 hours brought a perfect resolution in a way far better than we could have even asked for or imagined. Such an answer to prayer strengthens my resolve throughout this year to daily remain solidly grounded in the Master.