Picking up the Pieces
Carl Steele (known all over the world for his chalk drawings) picks up the chalk and starts drawing on an empty canvas. At first a small log cabin begins to take form. Gradually a beautiful lake appears in the background. One of Carl Steele’s trademarks was his ability to talk about God as he draws these beautiful pictures.
Everyone at Maranatha Bible Conference is enthralled by Carl Steele’s presentation. His work is mesmerizing. Suddenly, Carl Steele takes a piece of black chalk and puts a big black line through the picture (from the top all the way down to the bottom). If that wasn’t enough damage, he put a couple more black lines through the picture.
After destroying his beautiful picture, Carl Steele stops and faces the audience. Most people are horrified by what he has done. They can’t believe he ruined such a beautiful picture. Carl Steele’s pictures are valuable and many people are imagining how these black lines could be removed without ruining the picture.
After pausing for about five seconds, Carl Steele begins speaking to the audience. "Has this ever happened to you? Is this picture symbolic of your life? Was your life as beautiful as this picture? Your family, job, and spiritual life were all developing beautifully. All of these elusive pieces to a happy life were finally coming together.
Suddenly, tragedy strikes. A dark blemish is ripped across your life. Maybe this blemish was something unavoidable like a devastating car accident. Maybe you were a victim of a violent crime. Maybe it was something you brought on yourselves, like committing a terrible sin."
Carl Steele pauses, and then continues. "The beautiful picture of our life now has an ugly black blemish on it. It is totally ruined; there is no way of repairing it. We try to erase the blemish, but it’s too large. Our attempts to erase the mark only spreads the blemish even further."
After letting this sink in for a few seconds, Carl Steele turns around and starts drawing again. After a couple of minutes, the audience begins to see something they recognize. The black marks have become the trunks to some pine trees. Carl Steele is taking these terrible blemishes and is turning them into pine trees. Upon completion, the trees look like they actually belong with the drawing. In fact, it is now hard to imagine this picture without the trees.
Carl Steele turns to the audience again and says, "This is what can happen to your destroyed life when you turn it over to God. He can take a mess and turn it into something beautiful, something more beautiful than what it was before. It doesn’t matter if the blemish was a problem you created or a problem that was outside your control; God can still make it beautiful."
Carl Steele continues, "As we saw from this demonstration, we can never go back to the way things were before. Things have changed forever. However, if we give God full control, the change will be for the better."
I think we all can learn from Carl Steele’s presentation. It provides hope for the hopeless, relief for the overwhelmed. The next time your life is ruined by an ugly blemish, give it to God. Let Him turn this ugly blemish into a beautiful signature of His handiwork.
Another example of God taking a mess and turning it into something beautiful is the death of Jesus on the cross. What do you think the disciples felt when Jesus was taken from them and murdered? They had been with Him for three years and suddenly everything had fallen apart. Their hopes and dreams were destroyed. There was no way that this catastrophic event could be undone. Yet, God took this horrible situation and made it into something spectacular.
There are no tragedies too great for God. There are no wounds that God can’t heal. There are no blemishes beyond God’s miraculous touch. There are no shattered lives that God can’t repair.
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