How can I develop a better self-image?
On April 12, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was at the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia, sitting for a portrait when he died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. The “Unfinished Portrait,” as it is called, remains on its easel looking out on the world much like it did when artist Madam Elizabeth Shoumatoff laid her brush down at the sight of the President’s collapse.
The watercolor likeness of the President shows a man of inner strength and calm. However, photographs taken days before and placed alongside the artist’s canvas for reference reveal a much different view. In them we see a national leader who was worn emotionally and physically from the political load he bore.
Later, Madam Shoumatoff returned to her work on the President’s portrait. However, she did not choose to complete the watercolor she originally began. It was complete in its own right. Instead, she painted a new portrait – one of oil and one that was finished. It is a handsome rendering of President Roosevelt with no visible flaws.
Have you ever wondered how God views your life? Do you worry that He sees your flaws and mistakes and loves you less? God knows you perfectly and loves you completely just the way you are. You are His masterpiece–His workmanship of grace and love–His work of art. He continues to paint the colors of your life in such a way that you will glorify Him.
In Ephesians, the apostle Paul tells us: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (2:10).
It is by God’s loving grace that we are created in the image of Christ. Though our lives, from a human perspective, are still on the canvas, God has seen the final portrait. He has eternal eyes, and He knows exactly what part of our lives need His greatest attention. Every frustration, every disappointment, and every joy has a purpose. (Romans 8:28)
For many this is a hard concept to grasp. They see their lives as being incomplete, much like the unfinished portrait of President Roosevelt. But God views you from a totally different perspective. When He sees your life, He sees a person of worth and promise.
In the book Tramp For The Lord, Corrie Ten Boom told of the time she visited a hospital where polio patients were being treated.
The doctor in charge asked her if she would like to speak with the patients. The sight of the suffering deeply touched her. “No,” she replied, “I think I am unable to talk. I just want to go off somewhere and cry.”
A moment later she changed her mind and ended up beside the bed of a man who could barely breathe. She told him about Jesus Christ and how God had allowed His Son to suffer for each of us.
Corrie writes: “I finished speaking and from my bag took a small embroidery. On one side was stitched a beautiful crown. The other side was quite mixed up. ‘When I see you on this bed,’ I said, ‘not speaking, not moving, I think of this embroidery.’ I held up the back side of the embroidery. ‘Your life is like this. See how dark it is. See how the threads are knotted and tangled, mixed up. But when you turn it around then you can see that God is actually weaving a crown for your life. God has a plan for your life and He is working it out in beauty.’
“He picked up [a] pencil and wrote [in a shaky handwriting]: ‘Thank God I am already seeing the beautiful side.’ What a miracle!”
God has pledged His love to you. (Jeremiah 31:3) He walks with you through disappointment and is never disillusioned by your wayward acts. This is because He has seen the finished portrait. He knows that on your own, you can do nothing, but through Christ you can and will succeed. (Philippians 4:13)
You are His masterpiece, and He has given His Word as a testimony to the love and joy He has for you. Zephaniah 3:17 says: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”
God rejoices over you though He knows your life is in process of becoming all that He has planned for you to become. You are not yet what you will be when you step into the eternal presence of God. (1 Corinthians 13:12) Until that time, God is patiently molding and shaping your life to the image of His Son’s.
There is never a reason for you to give up. (Galatians 6:9) You are not alone. Jesus is with you cheering you on to victory. He is at your side to strengthen and encourage you. When your eyes are “fixed” on Him and not on your circumstances, you begin to see life differently. Instead of thinking negatively, the Holy Spirit teaches you to think on the things of God, which are pure and honoring to Jesus Christ.
This does not mean that you won’t suffer or feel pain. Jesus felt these, and yet He did not give up. The goal of accomplishing the Father’s will was always before Him. He knew that in order to complete His mission He would have to endure until the end. For Jesus this meant the Cross and physical death.
How could He possibly bear the weight of all our sins and still remain victorious? God had given Him an eternal perspective. He knew the resurrection was a completed fact. And after three days He rose to walk in victory. This is the same strength and power God gives you through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
You can walk in victory because Jesus is your example and His Spirit lives in you. Every frustration, fear, feeling of hopelessness, even temptation, is used of God like colors on an artist’s palette to bring you closer to Himself. Trials remind you of your need for Him.
Nothing is wasted in the kingdom of God. The brush strokes may seem deep and hard to bear at times, or the colors dark and muted. However, one day we will see the wonder and splendor of His work revealed as we step into His presence. Like the weaver turning the tapestry over to display the beauty of His design, He will unveil our lives as His greatest masterpiece.
How can you apply this thought to your life?
First, yield your life entirely to Jesus Christ.
In the book Absolute Surrender, Andrew Murray wrote: “Oh, I want to encourage you, and I want you to cast away every fear. Come with that feeble desire; and if there is the fear which says: ‘Oh, my desire is not strong enough, I am not willing for everything that may come, I do not feel bold enough to say I can conquer everything’ – I pray you, learn to know and trust your God now. Say: ‘My God, I am willing that [You] should make me willing.’ If there is anything holding you back, or any sacrifice you are afraid of making, come to God now, and prove how gracious your God is, and be not afraid that He will command from you what He will not bestow.”
Second, rest in the Lord.
The book of Hebrews tells us we can enter His rest at any time. (Hebrews 4) When we abide in Him, God takes the unsightly and makes it something of beauty. The abode of His presence is a place of abandonment where we don’t have to worry about the trials facing us. This does not mean that we forsake any connecting responsibility. Instead, it means that we are looking to Christ to complete His perfect working, knowing all along that He is working good even in times of sorrow.
Third, commit yourself to seeking a deeper spiritual walk with Christ.
There is no way to counterfeit intimacy with God. It is in time of intimacy with the Savior that God richly colors your life with truth and hope for the future. Nothing can duplicate His personal love for you. It is this love that is at work within you painting and creating a masterpiece of your life.