Well, God continues to stretch this artist and her gift. My pastor’s wife asked me a while ago if I would consider painting during the worship at this past weekend’s women’s conference at my church. Now, this may or may not surprise you, but that is something that is FAR outside my comfort zone; but I learned to stop saying “no” to God’s opportunities to stretch me…so I said I’d think and pray about it. Haha! Not exactly a “yes”, but it wasn’t a “no”!! So, I wrestled and prayed for a few weeks before telling her that I’d love the opportunity. Nonetheless, I had very mixed emotions as I was excited, yet anxious and insecure. What if I messed up?
In God’s provision and perfect timing, I was cleaning out my books last week and was thumbing through one entitled “Every Thought Captive” by Jerusha Clark. I had highlighted some things back when I read it probably 15 years ago, so of course my eye was drawn to those sections. One of those sentences caused, what felt like, my heart to stop beating for a moment.
Before I share what it said, let me give you a brief behind the scenes look into my ‘heartbeat’. When I was born, my mom’s doctor surmised I had a form of dwarfism, though he was not certain. I can’t begin to fathom the weight on my parents’ hearts and minds at that time. Well, on the evening of my birth, my Aunt Patty and Uncle Ken held a prayer meeting with about 10 – 15 people interceding for me. As they finished, each one walked away with the revelation that “Michele was born to glorify God.” I know beyond all doubt that is my purpose. It is my heartbeat. It is woven into my DNA. It is who I am. It is my passion. It is my desire. With that shared, here’s what I read in that book I “happened” to thumb through…
“God showed me that when I struggled to do everything perfectly, I also worked to bring glory to myself.”
Whoa. I seriously sat there numb as that truth sank in. In my mind, I felt myself quickly pull my hands away from my work as if not to touch God’s glory. So, with Jerusha’s heavy and convicting words fresh in my spirit I went this past weekend to paint before the Lord, not before the women. Once worship began, peace invaded my spirit as I began to mix my paints, surrounded by close to 400 worshipping women. A few songs in, the worship team led us in the song “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music, Amanda Cook. The bridge of that song begins “You make me brave – You make me brave – You call me out beyond the shore into the waves”. I laid my brush down and lifted my hands in worship as I stood in “the waves”, surrounded by my fears, insecurities and my God. I was there because God made me brave…period. It was a very powerful and moving experience for this struggling artist.
“Coincidentally”, after worship, in the first session one of our speakers, Christa Smith, spoke on Exodus 3 & 4 when God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, the land of slavery. Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10) As Christa said, in Moses’ insecurity, he was saying that his stuttering was bigger than “I AM”. She made the point of how our God-pleasing factor must be bigger than our man-pleasing factor. I leave you with a question that Christa asked us… “What if we got brave in God?”
*The theme of the conference was “Be The Light”, so I chose to paint a sunset with a silhouette of hands in a heart shape to portray us allowing God’s light to shine though our hearts. The painting is appropriately entitled, “Be The Light”. All weekend long there were giveaways, so at the third and final session they gave away my watercolor. With 5 campuses in attendance and a lot of visitors, who won it but one of my closest friends’ mom!
**Photos by John Agnello Photography