Checking the Original

In our Covid confinement, Sue has taken to watching YouTube videos of the Russian painter Viktor Yushkevich. You should check it out … it’s way more interesting than watching paint dry. Oh … uh … anyway … it really is fascinating. What I love is how the paintings develop from dark and abstract to light-infused and intricately detailed. Shadow and confusion are swept away by tiny masterful strokes of light and color. Shallowness and chaos are transformed to depth and beauty.

While watching Viktor paint, you will see him constantly checking his original. Sometimes he’s duplicating one of his older works. Sometimes he’s referencing a photograph. His skill is not based in imagination, but in being able to transfer and translate what he sees onto the canvas.

I remember twice when I had to do a still-life in art class. Both times there was a problem; the still-life wasn’t still. Working over multiple class periods in a room that kept getting rearranged with props that kept getting jostled made it impossible to accurately transfer the scene onto the canvas. After a while I gave up looking at the original. The end product was “impressionistic” to say the least.

The Christian life develops from shallowness and chaos to depth and beauty. It is the Spirit who will finish the work … but He allows us to have a hand on the brush. Our part is to constantly gaze back at the original and transfer what we see onto the canvas of our life. If life jostles us to the point that we stop regularly referencing God’s Word or fail to apply what we learn … our life will trend towards shallowness and chaos. But little bits of light faithfully transferred to the canvas of our life will eventually create a work of depth and beauty. We will become a portrait of our Savior.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22–25

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18