The Gift of Life’s Canvas

My grandmother, Vivian, had an interesting way of celebrating her grandchildren’s birthdays. For most of my growing up years, Grandma was not content just to give a little gift, or card or money. Instead a birthday celebration meant a special shopping trip with grandma. This shopping trip would not result in something that we could quickly pick out, put on, and move on. No, this shopping trip was more than likely a trip to Michael’s, the craft store in their small town, to select items for a project. My memorable project was a painting the year I turned nine years old. 

On this particular trip, Grandma, being a painting artist, already knew what we needed. She knew the right size canvas. She knew the colors of paints that she perhaps had run out of in her own supply and a new paintbrush or two. We picked up the supplies which to be honest, it was a bit anticlimactic. She paid for the supplies and we gathered up the yellow grocery bags.

We went to the farmhouse and set up in her studio— that is where all the magic began.

It’s funny now thinking about how impatient I was to complete the painting and how I just wanted it to be perfect and I wanted it to be done. Doesn’t that sound typical of our human nature? Let’s hurry up and get it done! Oh, but there is so much more to be found in the journey, in the process. 

And a process it was. I first had to prime the canvas, paint the background of the canvas, then work the background of mountains. Paint the background landscape. Then the trees began and those were a favorite- their spindly pine trunks reaching into the sky. But the clouds— the wisps of white— they were the best part.  I had to learn from my ever patient grandmother to loosen my tight grip on the paintbrush. I thought I had loosened enough but then she would reach over and shake my wrist. Still too rigid! To make the best clouds around I had to have a loose grip, let the paintbrush flow.  That was hard…what if I made a mistake? I made the cloud too big or what if I messed up the whole canvas? But to Grandma there was no mistake that couldn’t be fixed. 

I remember a few times her expert hand coming in on top of mine and helping me form the wispy clouds. I was in good hands yet I still felt tempted to control the process— to hurry the process. It felt as if was taking FOREVER for the finished product! But really the process of painting itself was grandma’s gift to me. Now I look back fondly on that time spent together and cherish it. I still have the painting and I always will. It’s not really about the finished product or how it turned out. 

Here is a picture of my wonderful grandmother, Vivian and I a few years ago. And the finished product from all those years ago:

The lesson I found in painting that day, my special ninth birthday gift, was it’s more about the process. It’s less about the control or the finished product.

So when I feel like I need to go into Sargent mode in life (you know what I mean, right? Trying to adhere to rigid expectations- control, hold tighter when faced with what feels a loss of control or a change happens in life— Sargent mode is not a nice place to live— for us or those we are around!) I try to remind myself of my painting gift with Grandma. I’ve just recently taken it out of my memory box and put it out where I can see it and remember this that God is the ultimate craftsman. He is the one overall, He’s in control. He’s the One who has given us this life canvas. He bought bought it for us by sending Jesus to die in our place (John 3:16).

He has all the supplies, all the paints, paint brushes, everything ready for us to paint our life’s picture.

“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

2 Peter 1:3

He doesn’t leave it at that. He doesn’t just say “Great, you can use my studio have fun. I’ll check in on you later.” No, He’s like my doting grandmother who allowed me creative process, but was also there to direct and help lead. He’s leading us into making a masterpiece, His hand is upon ours. His expert brush is able to correct any mistakes. His advice and wisdom are available as He helps paint the picture of our lives.

Friend, I encourage you to spread out the canvas of your life to our loving Father God. He’’s the ultimate craftsman. He’s the one who knows our days from beginning to end. He’s the one who is Lord over all. I encourage you to release your rigid grip on the paintbrush of life— release the urge to try to control or do things perfectly (even just one imperfect moment at a time. Believe me, I am right there with you). Instead, let His wisps of grace, His gentle expert hand lead and guide you. That’s how we end up with a masterpiece! May we realize that the process is the reward. Being with Him, trusting him learning from Him, growing in Him, letting him open our eyes of faith to a new perspective letting His presence minister to us is the main goal, the main thing.

Here’s my prayer this week— may you feel free to echo what resonates with your heart in your own prayer time too:

Lord, You are the ultimate craftsman. Thank you for designing, planning and laying out my life. I want to work in cooperation with you to create this masterpiece. Help me to relinquish, to release my tight and rigid grip on life. Help me let go of perfectionism. Instead, I yield to your gentle hand guiding me in the beautiful wisps of grace. Help me to remember that you are Lord of all. You are guiding, designing, perfecting in a way that only you can do. I’m not capable of that. So I give it all into your hands. Like John Eldredge says, ‘I entrust everyone and everything into your care’ ( . Thank you that we do this process together. I want to journey together. Thank you for speaking to my heart in your gentle and peaceful and wisps of grace type of way. I’ll follow the nudges of the Holy Spirit this week. To continue moment upon moment situation upon situation, to surrender control to you. I know that you are the ultimate craftsman, you will lead me in the ultimate journey, your journey for my life. In Jesus name, amen. 

Until next time, 

P.S. Picture 1: This is another one of my grandmother’s paintings that is now hanging in our house. She had a gallery of paintings all around her house, and was always willing to part with one if we felt like one resonated with us. Upon my grandparents deaths, the paintings have now been spread out to different households. That makes me smile! I like to think about how grandma’s handiwork lives on inspires others and brings smiles to my extended family’s faces in all of our different households. Her paintings are such a good reminder of God’s wisps of grace and God’s handiwork and how it lives on forever.  I’ll be excited to see the different creations she comes up with in Heaven, I’m sure she’s already started her gallery there.  (And oh the fish Grandpa will have caught! Every size and variety!)

Picture 2: Grandma and her oldest granddaughter got to continue this tradition years ago as well with a special painting day with Memaw. 🥰

P.S.S. I would love to hear your personal testimonies of the times that you have seen God’s wisps of grace in stressful or hard situations and how God came through for you. When we share these testimonies, it’s amazing how much it inspires us and reminds ourselves about the faithfulness of God and also inspires those that we tell. 

One thought on “The Gift of Life’s Canvas

  1. Thank-you for this encouragement and reminder. Beautifully written and expressed. I will try to think about a time of my own I can share with you as requested, once I have had a chance to rest up. 🙂


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