Monday, March 28, 2016

elegant grace

About a year ago, I was online looking for something very specific when the Lord redirected my attention to an item for sale on one of those websites geared toward artists and vintage collectors who sell their wares to the public.  Somehow... someway... the Lord changed my course and put before me a vintage painting of an elegant woman dressed in a pink gown holding a bouquet of yellow roses amidst a dramatic, black backdrop.  Mind you, I don't usually seek out or impulsively buy such things without intended purpose.  Sure, I do love art tremendously, and I am a firm believer that if an image really impacts you, no matter who the artist, you should at least try to acquire an electronic or inexpensive print to enjoy... but this was different.  This painting really touched my heart and I immediately knew the Holy Spirit was involved.  It was painted on an 14"x18" canvas board, appeared to be done solely with a palette knife in glossy oils, and was unframed.  On the back of the painting was written in pen the original artist's name (withheld here for privacy) and a date, March 1962.

At first glance, I found myself gasp at the image.  The portrait was of a beautiful blonde woman dressed in formal wear.  It was simple, graceful, understated.  And yet, the deep, nocturnal background in which the woman stood seemed so unusual and modernly accomplished in its technique.  It effortlessly allowed the colorful hues of the subject's dress to pop as she stood casually, charmingly, classically in front of its black limitlessness.  To me, the image of this woman was somehow the woman I wanted to be.  The woman whom I often envision the Lord molding me into as His new, grace-filled creation.  There she was, being sold online for pennies.  Standing in formal attire.  Holding sweet-smelling flowers of friendship.  Satisfied.  She was a vintage treasure awaiting salvation.  An unframed "garage-sale" gem in need of a new home.

For some time, I deliberated about the painting's small price compared to the grand impact it had upon me and finally decided to buy it for my office.  I would frame it and hang it where I most often write for The Devoted Woman.  Where I most often spend my alone time with Jesus in prayer.

After the purchase was complete, I began to think more about the artist's name meticulously written on the back of the canvas.  Who was the person who painted this lovely picture?  Clearly, this was not a world renowned artist.  This was a simple someone from nowhere in particular.  A person who most likely enjoyed painting as a hobby in her spare time.  Perhaps she had taken a class and this was the fruit of that education...?  Perhaps, like me, painting was an occasional weekend escape or a random evening embellishment...?  I didn't know.  But I really wanted to find out.

Immediately, the investigator in me began piecing together the few clues I had already obtained.  I had a solid name, a place of origin where the painting came from, and a date.  In this day and age, such clues are a great beginning in locating someone online.  And so my quest began.  I was excited to find out who this woman really was, and if I could possibly meet her and thank her in person for her work.  Perhaps she knew Jesus...?  Perhaps she loved Him as I do...?  After only a few minutes online, I found her... discovering that she had passed away in her sleep in late September of 2013.  She was married but had no children.  (Just like me.)  She had worked beside her husband in their business for over 20 years, traveling together to more than 75 countries. (Similar to Chuck and I.) She was described as "very nice", "always smiling and lighthearted," "gracious to have around," and "generous in offering herself to others."  In her spare time, she enjoyed dabbling in drawing, painting, and many other creative outlets.  She liked to cook and had a great sense of humor.  And, from what I could tell, in the end she left behind very little family and few belongings of worth.  Then I hit the jackpot: three real-life photos of the artist in her prime.  There she stood looking back at me, a shoe-in for Grace Kelly, standing happily in the middle of the blooming tulip fields in Holland.  Adventuring in front of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  Posing in front of an impressive hotel on one of the many Caribbean islands.  She was simply beautiful.  Happily, I became acquainted with a once very real woman whom I never knew, and yet the Lord still introduced me to her one year after her passing - allowing the small details of her former life to bless and encourage my own current life.  Gracious God.  Soon, this simple someone will now very tangibly become a new part of my home.  Her joy will be displayed on my own walls.  Her work a reminder of God's redeeming grace in my own life.  So, I decided to name her portrait, "Elegant Grace" and print out her bio along with the few pictures, so that I might include them in back when framing.

Ladies, I share this story with you because the sum of our lives can amount to more than forgotten, worthless waste.  Instead we can be elevated to the most treasured reflection of someone who displays the image of Christ!  We can showcase the spotlight on God's glorious gift of salvation and the beauty He simply is.  Our actions, our words, our relationships, our careers, our adventures... even our outlets - they all matter to God and can be used to bless.  They are fruit to be grown, harvested, and savored.  Sure, we might consider ourselves small, insignificant, and "simple someones from nowhere in particular," with nothing in our pockets but a few pennies and photo-snapped memories.  But when we welcome in Almighty God, when we express ourselves through the very personal and very specific gifts he bestows upon us as individuals, Jesus pops in front of the black limitlessness.  He shows up and spotlights our hearts with His beautiful.  He reveals His endless, abounding grace through every moment, every encounter, every act we produce... sometimes even after our own expiration date.  So, allow His Spirit to guide your steps.  Afford your Creator everything that you are.  For you are most valuable in His eyes.  Believe that you are important and meaningful to God and know His life-changing grace.

Yes, on this most important of todays, I encourage you to make it your quest to know your Maker's flawless technique as you casually, charmingly, classically stand steadfast and satisfied in His promises.

This is the day to rejoice and be glad in Christ.
This is the day to dress yourself with His perfect, elegant devotion.

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  (Ephesians 4:7)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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