Once, when I was taking down one of my oil paintings that was displayed in a Christmas show, an older gentleman took one look at the painting and said, “I could have done that.” Since I have oodles of time to process all kinds of experiences I have had, due to my cancer journey and resting in bed for hours, I have processed this experience and actually become appreciative of this critical man’s bombastic tomfoolery.
I think of the eight years of art training, both on the undergraduate and graduate level, that I completed. I think of the tricky aspects of oil painting, and how I shy away from the fumes and glazes of that medium. However, occasionally, like with this painting, I embrace the fumes with an open window, and I experiment once again with the buttery textures of oils and glazes. This painting came on the heels of eight years of academic training and thirty-five years of practicing my artistic skills.
While lying in bed, fighting chemo nausea, I think of the idea I had, even before I started painting – the wonder of the Trinity dancing and communing in Heaven in eternity past, and the moment Jesus chose to leave that perfect union of three persons in One God, to come to earth for us. And to do what? He came as a humble baby, grew into manhood, died on a wooden cross for our wrongs, rose from the dead, (defeating Satan and death) and He has now danced back to the Father and Holy Spirit, and secured a place for us in Heaven for all eternity. Serious hard work! He did all that because of His great love for each of us in our hopeless, darkened, fallen, never able to quite get it right, condition.
And what is our response to all Jesus did? All He gave? (Think of His MANY years of preparation???) Well, of course, in our bombastic tomfoolery we say, “I can do that.” I can save myself. Our way of saying, “I can do that.” is usually something like this: “I’m a pretty good person; I haven’t killed anyone,” or “I think God loves me and will overlook all the bad stuff I’ve done,” or, “I’ve done more good than bad, so I’ll probably go to Heaven,” or, “There is no God.” The reason why I am an authority on this is because I used to say these very sentences. I’m one of us. I was full of bombastic tomfoolery.
Then, one day, with the help of those further along in admitting their tomfoolery, the scales began falling from the eyes of my haughty and yet shame-filled soul, and I humbly saw the need for the work Jesus did for me. I began to appreciate it, rather than say I could do it. Eventually, He became my greatest treasure – clinging to Jesus and the work He did for me, is more precious to me than life itself.
So, when someone says to me, in all their bombastic tomfoolery, “I could have done that,” I will smile and think of my own silliness in thinking I could save myself from sin and death. I almost weep for joy at the gift of humility God has given me, so I could know, appreciate and receive the work and the gift of Jesus. Merry Christmas!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6