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photo: Martha G. Brady

photo: Martha G. Brady

As you know, I was on a Retreat last weekend. It was delightful on many levels. This photo represents another area that made it especially enjoyable. I love to be creative. As much as I enjoy many aspects of art, I don’t feel that I am a true artist. At least not in the sense that I am able to draw or paint. I am creative. I can make and craft many types of items (just look at all I sorted through and got rid of recently from my craft room alone!) But drawing and painting a picture are not within my ability.

Imagine my pleasure at being able to paint a bird with decent results. It will never be called a masterpiece, but it was decent. The photo above is a picture of most of the canvases lined up next to each other for you to see. We completed these after approximately 90 minutes of taking the class. It illustrates a number of important truths I thought I’d pass on.

Look at the image you are going to paint, observe and study it

1. Our teacher, Karen Smith, kept reminding us not to watch her (except for some very short demonstrations) but to look at the picture of the bird at our seats. The more I worked on my project, the more that helped me. I kept trying to remember what a bird looks like. That isn’t what is important. It is important to look at where certain parts are in reference to other parts in the picture you are painting from.

What is the ratio of the tail to the body, for example? I didn’t do well observing that. Where does the white fit in relation to the orange on the chest? I struggled there too. But you can see that there are others who did much better in those areas. I could learn from them. The more we looked at our pictures, the easier it was to paint the picture more clearly…of the bird.

I’m sure you understand the parallels when it comes to Jesus. We need to stay in GOD’s Word to “see” Him, to know Him, to reflect Him. Scripture often uses the term “abide” to describe it.

As a child of GOD, you will show the world Jesus. It won’t be a perfect version, but they will recognize Him. He will see to it.

2. When you look at each picture, you see it is similar in some ways to the original. You haven’t seen it, but we have. You can tell each picture is a blue bird. Each picture has similarities and differences. Some were purposeful (differences in background color for example) others were unintentional (inability to get shapes or color blends that we wanted, in the limited time we had and with the limited skills many of us had.)

It reminded me of how much we need community of all kinds…small groups, medium groups, larger groups. We learn from each other. In a Body of believers, we see Christ displayed in others. Each of us display Him in our own broken versions. But He makes sure people see Jesus! We wonder why we aren’t like Christian A or B but that isn’t what GOD’s purpose for us is. He has a special purpose for us. He already has Christian A and B. He has another purpose and it is for us. We fill a gap that no one else can fill.

While we don’t want to compare, we also need help with models. I know I have trouble with shapes of the white part on the breast. I need help from someone who has figured that part out. The same goes for working with others in our groups. Some areas aren’t a struggle for you. What helps you? Why?

When you look at each of those figures, you can see a blue bird. Some are misshapen, some don’t have their markings in all the right places, their colors may not be the true colors they are in nature because we didn’t become expert color mixers in a 90 minute art class. But it was obvious that all of them are blue birds. That is what our teacher was there to teach us to paint.

The next time you are discouraged about the fact that you are a failure, that others don’t see enough of Jesus, etc. Think about this picture. Yes, you want to improve. But the work Christ started in you to make you more like Jesus? He promises He will complete that job!

It will not be half done or incomplete. His plan will be done and worked out fully. (cf. Philippians 2:12-13) Your process is different than the next person’s, even the person you may admire greatly. So allow GOD to work on you with no comparisons to others. Wait for the adventure of what He will do in you and through you as you grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus.

The Body of Christ is diverse, immensely diverse! Don’t compare your gifts or style to anyone else. GOD’s purposes for you are unique in the Body (within Scriptural bounds.)

3. Looking at the differences in each bird reminds me once again of the diversity in the Body of Christ. We each have differing perspectives, different gifts, different loves and passions, different ways of communicating. But if we are part of the Body of Christ, we will minister in the way GOD has gifted and graced us. Of course, we will develop over time, but our way of ministering won’t be the same as the next person. This can be very liberating!


As you think of where you fit in the Body of Christ and in your local Body of believers, how do you function?

In what ways has GOD gifted you to serve others? To show Jesus to those around you?

Do you remember to look at Jesus, the heart of the gospel? or do you tend to try to go on your memory of past experiences with Him?

P.S. Want to know which bird is mine? far right bird, second row down from top.