The IllustrationFriday.com challenge this week was the word “shades.” My first thought was shades of color, sunglasses, then window shades, then well something a little silly. All of this reminded me of a piece I had written about light, color and what it means to be an artist who follows Jesus. It’s called the The Light-Bender… I hope you enjoy it.
I’m an artist. For years it was all I wanted to do and while a lot of people hold artists in high regard, I was always a little more realistic about it, or at least that was what I thought. While I can see that artists have a unique ability, I always considered it pretty low on the social hierarchy. I’d say things like, “I’m an artist. In a survival situation I’d be one of the first ones eaten.” I suppose it’s a good thing not to think too highly of yourself, but it is not good to look down on something God gave you to make you unique.
On the other hand I’ve freelanced for people who thought paying me was optional, heard people say the phrase starving artist about a billion times as if it’s assumed we’ll be broke and our work only really becomes valuable when we die. If you don’t believe me look at poor Van Gogh, whose work now regularly sells for millions. He painted over 900 paintings in a ten year period, and died penniless having only sold one. While people may praise some artists to the heavens, they also further the belief that art is for an elite few. It’s enough to give a person a real inferiority complex.
That’s exactly what happened to me, and it’s exactly what will happen to anyone who gets their self worth from the wrong source. One day in the depths of my struggles, I remembered that my self worth is not determined by the amount of art I sell or the money I earn for each piece. You see I am a follower of Jesus Christ, so any time I struggle with my own value, I need to do no more than look to the cross and see how much my Lord values me and the price He paid to save me. The day that I gave my gift of art to the Lord, something changed.
I saw my gift as useful for more than just making pretty pictures or ads to make people buy things they don’t really need. I saw painting as more than just slapping paint on a canvas. I began to realize that I was really taking complex chemicals and manipulating them in such a way that they absorbed and reflected parts of the light spectrum. I’m a light bender. I take a piece of white canvas that reflects the entire spectrum of light and adjust it until it reflects the image that otherwise would only exist in my mind or even better in the heart of God. I have been given the power by my creator to bend light into stories, into ideas. I bend the light of God’s promise into images with the ability to touch hearts and lives and while some may put this power to use for less than honorable means, I have submitted my gift to God. I bend the light to tell his story, bending the light to reveal His glory and while it maybe but a pale reflection, through His power it works His purposes—purposes at times beyond what my eyes can see.
Light moves far and fast and it shines broad and bright and when I bend it, I don’t always know where it will go or what it will illuminate. I have to trust the source of the light for that, constantly reminding myself that I am not the light. I am the light bender. I bent the light and it brightened a dark spot in someone’s heart. I bent the light and someone saw a dead end in their path and the need to turn around. I bent the light and someone saw a nasty presence hiding deep within their soul, but more than that, the light drove it out. I bent the light and it showed someone a new path and for others confirmed and brightened the path they were already on. I bent the light and someone saw something they’d never seen before. I bent the light and someone saw the path beyond their obstacle and the hope beyond their circumstance. I’ve bent the light and it’s made them see that they too want to bend the light. Sometimes when I bend the light just right, people see the light of the world, they see Jesus, with arms wide open and His light goes on in their hearts and he lights them from the inside out.
I’m not the light… I’m the light bender.