Monday, November 5, 2012

Scribbled Surprises

I stood over the table in my preschool classroom, watching as a little girl focused intently on her current project.

She was fascinating to observe in this state. Lips pursed, eyes focused, and her little hands pressing the poor Crayola crayon to the paper so hard that the tip was permanently blunted. She was about four, and therefore, this artwork was not something that was identifiable to my jaded adult eye. But as her teacher, I was terribly interested in what was capturing her attention so. 

I approached her, slightly unwilling to break her momentum, but the curiosity was all too much. After all, if something can make a four-year-old focus, it has to be something simply enthralling. I knelt down to her level and asked her, "Honey, what are you making?"

She seemed not to hear me and continued swirling her crayons over the paper, stopping only for a brief moment every once in a great while to change colors. So, rather than continue to badger her, I simply remained by her side to watch in awe. 

Apparently, my unfaltering presence did what my words could not and stirred her from her masterpiece. Her eyes met mine and she asked me, with the kind of large audacity that stuns from such a little person, "Miss Abecca, could you go away? I'm trying to draw. It's a surprise and you're messing it up."

It's one of those moments where you're not certain whether to be amused or be distressed, but her expression caused me to believe that the latter was the correct response. So with a small laugh, I left her to her work and attended to the rest of my class.

I think sometimes that God works in this fashion. He's worked tirelessly to form a marvelous creation that to our untrained eyes seems to be nothing more than a scribbled out mess with which He seems entirely to proud to present us. And so we perhaps we ask Him, "God, what are you making of this?" and He remains silent,  too busy to answer. 

I can see myself standing at God's side, poking at Him and asking over and over again to see the work that He's doing, because my patience is thin and I've heard that when He makes something, it's always wonderful. And so I plead with Him, "God, what are you making?" And He remains focused, drawing what I deem to be unnecessary lines and erasing parts that seem to me to be all too important to this unfinished picture, all the while not uttering a word.

And so I stand there, looking over God's shoulder, not really saying much, but letting my impatient indignence shine through, and this appears to get His attention. I'm so proud of myself for twisting God's arm until He says to me, "Could you step back for a minute? I'm trying to create something beautiful. It's a surprise and if you know all about it, you're going to mess it up."

Artwork isn't always clear to the observer. The intent and methods may never be fully understood. But the Artist knows why and how and when He did what. All the observer can do is stand back at the finished product in awe and appreciate the beauty that they might have never seen coming.

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