God has a faithful, painful, plan to make you into something you are not yet; into who He has created you to fully be, into a reflection of His perfect Son. Like an artist looks at his raw material, in God’s mind he envisions a finished product even if right now you’re not yet there. The areas of your life that will need a bit of pruning to get there He carves away to make you just a bit more like Him. That’s sanctification. His testimony will become your testimony. In the end He will not stop short of presenting you pure and blameless in His glory.
Lately my artistic expression has been carving linoleum blocks; also called block-printing or lino-cutting. When I have an idea for a block-print I start with a “canvas” of clean, malleable, linoleum. I draw out the image I have in mind and begin to carve away at the negative space in my picture. I have a different set of blades for each desired cut. The broad, wide, scoop for large spaces. The narrow, fine, blade for detailed lines. In the end, my block displays for the page what my mind displayed for the block. While cutting away at the material I inflict pain to the linoleum (so to speak). But this cutting away isn’t destructive; it’s actually creative, even constructive, because my desired outcome will be more beautiful. My product will bear the signature of my design as our life and testimony are shaped to reflect that of God.
Psalm 119 says,
“Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.” -v.24
“I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame,” -v.46
“Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.” -v.79
See how the writer is shaped (counseled) by God’s testimonies and then echoes God’s testimonies as they become the very message of his life. God’s testimonies are greater than our experiences, more real than our revelations, and more true than our perceptions. They shape us and counsel us as we delight in the Creator’s plan. The writer says he delights but also realizes the costly process as God seems to carve away at our very flesh with the blades of affliction.
Psalm 119 also says,
“This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.” -v.50
“I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” -v.75
“It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” -vv.71–72
God comforts in affliction. God is faithful in affliction. God is good in affliction. His blade is carefully guided by faithful hands and the outcome is more valuable than gold and silver. What is God cutting out, cutting away, carving, or refining in your life right now? The pain is real today but one day I’m convinced we’ll look at the cutting room floor and glory in the final product of His faithful design.
PS. This is my latest block-print illustrating a poem written beautifully by my friend and colleague Ryan Bussiere. Check out his poem here: A Lantern’s Wish