“Artist” is not a word I would typically associate with myself. But I do like creating pretty things. I really enjoy painting, in particular. But one kind of paint always terrified me. Watercolor. I saw it as uncontrollable, unpredictable, and very very unforgiving. When it comes to my art, I’m a very detail oriented person, and also a bit of a control freak. So watercolors and I didn’t exactly blend. But one day, I had a painting on my mind that just had to be done in watercolors. So I forced myself to go to the store and pick up all of the necessary torture instruments. Once I got home, I got straight to work. I lined up my paper, dipped my brush in that dreaded water, put it to the paper and…it was bad. So Bad. Terrible, really! First try, I didn’t have enough water on my brush. The paint clumped, the color was way too concentrated, and the paint didn’t go very far. So, I tried again. This time, I had too much water. The paint clung to the small river I had created on my paper and flowed just about everywhere except for where I wanted it to be. I could hardly tell what color I had even chosen because it was essentially clear on my paper. After several (hundred) attempts to get this picture out of my head and onto the paper, I started to get the hang of it. I started to understand the balance between the paint and the water. I found a way to hold my brush that allowed the pigmented water to flow where I needed it to go. I was finally able to create my “masterpiece” and it only looked mildly awful.
Today, watercolor is probably my favorite medium. But before coming to enjoy something that used to make me want to hit my head against a wall, I had to realize one fundamental truth: When working with watercolors, I am not the only creator involved. The water and I are co-artists, working together to create something beautiful. Instead of obsessing over detail and perfection, I had to learn to embrace the inevitable flaws. Not only do they add character and depth, sometimes, those imperfections turn out to be the coolest part of the entire piece. But the most important thing to remember is that although it may not turn out exactly how I had envisioned it, it will still turn out beautiful, as long as I let the water do its thing.
Now I promise this wasn’t just an unwanted art lesson. This is for Picasso just as much as it is for someone who hasn’t painted anything since they grew “too old” to use their fingers.
While I was painting one day, I realized that humans are a lot like watercolors. We are designed with our own unique personalities, talents, and interests. We come in all shades and colors. These differences are what make the world so beautiful. But we were not created to use our beauty without our Creator, a Creator who constantly refers to Himself as Water, because He provides the refreshing movement that we need. We cannot be used for our original purpose until we encounter the Water of Life. But that means surrendering to its flow. The full potential of humanity cannot be realized until control is given to the One who designed us to be living in perfect harmony with Him.
Water is a powerful source of direction. It carries paint where it fits best on the page. In nature, it carves dirt and rock in the direction it needs to go. God gives us very similar direction. He helps us go the places we need to go, He guides our choices and our movements, and He strengthens us to go where we choose. Don’t forget that! He always leaves room for us to choose. He can make things beautiful no matter what. But there are still times when the He knows that we’ll fit better in another place, and He will make sure we get there one way or another.
Water also provides much needed cleansing. Without being washed clean, we inevitably become muddled and caked with things that don’t belong to us. When we try to keep going with our own strength, our color isn’t quite right. Things become disproportioned and even ugly. But God’s cleansing love restores us and keeps us at our most vibrant. He loves our individual colors far too much to leave us to become something we weren’t created to be. He’s always there, offering that refreshing new life. We only need to dive in.
Color is so vitally important to this equation. God loves our individuality and vibrancy. That means it’s OKAY to be different. And most importantly, it’s okay to be YOU. I think we all know one of those Christians. That person that speaks fluently in New King James English and never talks about anything but Jesus. You’re left wondering when they last had an individualistic thought or enjoyed a slice of pizza without comparing it to manna from heaven. Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to be focused on Him at all times. He wants us to be the topic of our conversations and the life of our parties. But I don’t think He wants us to lose our individuality in doing so. When using watercolors as they’re intended, the water is in every part of the paint. But the paint is not water. It’s paint. Similarly, God is in us. But we are not God. When He wants to act purely as Himself, He will. But when He wants to work through us, He designed us to be colorful for a reason. Knowing how much water to use comes through practice and cooperation.
Perhaps the most beautiful thing about being watercolors in the hands of such a loving Creator is that God wants to use us. He is an all-powerful God who created the entire world by simply speaking a few words. Yet He chooses to work through us on a daily basis. He wants to use our hands to feed the hungry and embrace the lost. God wanted to create something beautiful. So He created each and everyone of us to fit perfectly into His work of art. The most beautiful being in the entire universe created YOU to add color to His world. He wants your color to shine and show the power and grace of the Water of Life!
We try to paint the pictures of our lives without Water far too often, but our abilities can only go so far. We dry up, and our true colors become distorted. We try to leave the One we were designed for out of the equation entirely. But no matter how hard we may try to go against it… watercolors need water.
“Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.’ …’those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:10 & 14