It’s been a pretty intense day looking at the conflicting and contrasting theories of justice that exist out there in the philosophical arena. And you can get a bit bogged down in all this. You can overanalyse your behaviour, your motives and your thoughts about these deep concepts.
You can just overanalyse.
You can feel the pressure.
So, I’m going to go back to a story that was shared on Monday to bring some balance:
There was once a primary school teacher who decided to facilitate an art afternoon for a class of slightly over-zealous 7 year olds.
Bold, colourful paints emerged, large paper was rolled out, and the children were furnished with aprons, brushes and a large amount of creative freedom.
One small girl boldly declared: ‘I know exactly what I want to paint. I want to paint a picture of Mummy!!’
She proceeded to throw her full enthusiasm into the afternoon’s artistic efforts. Armed with a paintbrush in each hand, an array of primary colours and a determined look on her face, she worked tirelessly with all her might.
An hour later, the small girl stepped back, cocked her head to one side to observe her finished creation, and proudly declared: ‘Mummy!’
Now the slightly-frazzled-teacher critically perceived the scene. Yes, there was paint covering the paper, but also the floor, the wider table and even spattered on the ceiling. The apron had protected the girl’s sweater, but not her hair, her face or her arms, which were now all coated in a tacky glaze of partially dried block colour.
It was a mess.
The teacher looked at the picture of ‘Mummy’ and grimaced. Unless ‘Mummy’ had green hair, 5 legs and an arm growing out of the back of her head, this picture bore absolutely no resemblance to the child’s Mother. None at all.
The scene was a disaster. Nothing more. Nothing less.
As badly timed as ever, the school bell rang, and parents streamed into that freshly-littered-disaster-zone to collect their beautiful-children-plus-not-so-beautiful-artwork.
The teacher held her breath.
The little girl expectantly ran towards her immaculately dressed Mother, proudly holding out her ‘masterpiece’ and shouting, ‘Mummy, look what I did! I drew you. I painted you. Do you like it?’
Time momentarily paused.
In what was no more than a literal split second, ‘Mummy’ looked down at her paint-covered daughter.
She considered the green-multi-legged-weird-head-arm interpretation of her own appearance.
She took in the wider mess of the classroom.
And without any hesitation, she knelt down and fully embraced her painted-spatted daughter in an overwhelming bear-hug. With full conviction, she declared, ‘This is the most wonderful picture I have ever seen. You did such a good job. I am so proud of you.’ And with tears in her eyes she picked up both her child and the yet-still-damp painting, and carried them both away.
So in the midst of all the theology, and all the striving to be changed into God’s likeness, and all the zeal to live a pure and blameless life… It’s so sweet and good to really remember the way that God sees us.
That our Heavenly Father looks down at our best efforts, considers our heart-felt interpretations of Him, takes in our weak love and the mess that we sometimes make despite our best intentions.
And He is moved.
And without hesitation, He sees our hearts and our pursuit, and He runs to us, and embraces us, and says, ‘That my child, is so beautiful, such a wonderful interpretation.’
Only He could take my weak love and make it beautiful. Only He could take the painting of my life; that which is often a mess of unrecognisable shapes and colours; pour in His Spirit and transform it into something completely restored.
Only His ways would make a way for redemption to be greater than perfection.