I ENJOY WORKING WITH PAINTS, mixing colors, experimenting with the effect they make on the canvas. In the past, I worked with acrylics and water colors. Now, finally, I’m beginning to experiment with oils. Oils are more difficult, but they offer so much more potential. One difficulty with oils is that they take so long to dry. Recently, my daughter Katie picked up one of my paintings. She felt horrible when she realized that her fingers had smudged up the paint. I told her not to worry about it. After all, the painting should have been dry. It had been sitting there for days!
With some of us, God is painting with oils. Metamorphosis doesn’t always happen overnight and God is a patient artist. Sometimes it takes years for the Spirit’s artistry to mature within us. As I look back on my life, I am now conscious that God has been moving to create within me since I was a child, and this process will continue until God’s work has been perfected. Admittedly, I’ve been running interference, too often choosing to trust in myself. My fear and pride clogs up the Spirit’s movement. Faith releases his artistry within us. Perhaps this is why the Scripture sometimes makes use of imperative language when referencing our responsiveness to the Spirit. Paul writes, “Let us keep in step with the Spirit.” To the Corinthians, “Eagerly desire spiritual gifts.” To the Ephesians he exhorts, “Be filled with the Spirit.” And to Timothy, “I remind you to fan into flames the gift of God which is in you.”
Perhaps most importantly, faith ignites the creative artistry of the Spirit of God in the human soul. The expressions of the Spirit speak for themselves, calling others into a deeper awareness of God. They are all the assurance the people around us need to know that the Creator is living and active within us. Like notes on a score, they are God’s heart-song to his creation. As we are captured by the Spirit, love welcomes other people into our hearts and moves our hands to serve them. Joy flows into other cubicles at the office. Peace swirls through a staff meeting and people become uncomfortable with their anxiety. We discover a newfound patience with those who previously stirred such anxiety within us. Kindness comes tumbling out into our eyes as we tell stories to our children at bedtime. Faith is a river that flows from our hearts, watering the arid ground of our worries. Gentleness defines our response to someone in pain.
I’m excited to get to know the person God is creating in me. Someday I won’t believe that I used to be afraid to speak out for my convictions. Any invitation to offer the living hope in my soul to others will be seen as a fantastic new opportunity to share in God’s creative process! The discord, the old jealousies, the addictions and the spiteful bursts of anger are being caught by the Spirit’s fire, burned into ashes, and blown away. The fear that once caused trembling hands and shaking knees drifts away. A new person is being created and is emerging within. My new self is “being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator! Be filled with hope and live this day with a bold faith. Even now, God is in the process of remaking you. Your maker is not finished. He knows precisely what he created you to be, and he “who began his work in you will carry it on to completion.”
Paul Andrew Richardson
East Java, Indonesia
 Hebrews 10:14.  Galatians 5:25.  1 Corinthians 14:1.  Ephesians 5:18.  2 Timothy 1:6.  Colossians 3:10.  Philippians 1:6.