The Canvas

Psalm 119:11; James 4:8a; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Psalm 23:3

From the time we are each conceived, our lives begin as a stark, white canvas. Pure, wholesome, without spot or blemish. As our lives progress, a scant portrait of what our life can become appears.

Most of us have looked closely at a piece of art at one time or another. We can see there is usually a balance of light and dark paint strokes that make up the completed picture. Let’s assume light colored paint strokes represent the positive things in our lives and dark colored paint strokes represent the negative things. What would the canvas of your life look like? Would it be light and joyful? Or would it be dark and depressing? Just like there are different levels of light and darkness in a piece of art, there are different levels of positive and negative things that happen in our lives.

Some of us have lighter canvas than others because we strive to do things that are good and focus on the positive things in our lives. When we choose to live doing things that are against God or the laws of man, we allow the negative to overshadow the positive in our lives.

Is it just as easy to focus on the positive in our lives as it is the negative? Many questions help us find the answer to this question. Did your parent(s) show you love or were you treated like you were a burden to them? Was there peace and joy in your home or was there yelling, fighting and chaos? Were you bullied at school? Did you struggle to learn due to a learning disability? As a child, these things set up our belief systems by allowing us to view who we think we are or are not. These will be some of the first strokes painted on our Life-Canvas.

Our personality type can help determine how we look at life. Some of us are born with a tendency to see “the glass half empty” instead of the “the glass half full”. The person that looks at the glass half empty tends to see more negative things in their lives, where the person that sees the glass half full, tends to see more positive things in their lives.

When we give our lives to Jesus, He becomes our teacher. He will show us where our Life-Canvas is too dark and the things that need to be changed in us. If we allow Him to, He’ll paint over those dark, negative areas by adding light in just the right places. He’ll show us who we really are…in Him and give us a fool-proof plan on how to continue to paint strokes of light onto our canvas.

Maintaining a close relationship with the Lord by reading His Word and hiding it in our hearts, (Psalm 119:11), and spending time talking to Him, we begin to see how much He loves us. By focusing on our blessings in life, we become thankful for what He’s given us or done for us. James 4:8a says that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.

There will be times in your life when you will want to cover your Life-Canvas with a sheet, so nothing more can be added to it. Times like this will occur when you just can’t deal with what life gives you to paint with. Maybe it’s a worn-out brush that’s painted too much darkness onto your canvas. Could it be that the bright colors in your paint box have dried up because they haven’t been used in such a long time?

Since Frank and I lost our only child, Joy, I am learning that if I look to Jesus, I can have peace. All I have to do is look around me and thank the Lord for my sweet husband, the sunshine, the air I breathe, food to eat, and a roof over my head. There are times that my raw emotions still get in the way and I tend to focus on the down side of life.

When your very core has been shaken by the loss of a loved one or a way of life, your life changes drastically! Dreams now lay at your feet in ashes. Questions fly in all directions…How can I be an Overcomer? How can I paint light onto my Life-Canvas when my life has been smeared into a mess I no longer recognize? Things I lived for and were an intricate part of me have been taken away forever.

From time to time I still ask God “why”…”why” after much prayer on a daily basis, did He not intervene the day my only child was killed. I had prayed for Him to keep her safe. For God to put His protective hedge around her. Was He listening that day? Or was I just talking to the wind?

As that happened, I threw a sheet over my Life-Canvas and complete darkness set in. How do you ever find your way out of that kind of darkness again? You wonder if God abandoned you? Can you ever trust God again?

As I look into others’ lives, I may see a family that loves one another and spends time with each other. But, in my life, many holidays are lonely and cold. There are no celebrations, birthdays, graduations, weddings…What do you do if there will be no grandchildren? How do you fit into others’ lives when yours is so different now?

My Life-Canvas was smeared with darkness…beyond recognition. I pulled back from almost everyone…I became a recluse. Something that goes against every fiber of my being! I know I can’t lean on friends or family members forever. It’s not that they don’t care, but they must move on with their own lives…not remain in the darkness with me.

There were days I didn’t feel there was anything more for me here. I didn’t know where I fit in anymore…I was on the outside looking in…The layout of family has altered extremely since I grew up, but the basics are still the same. You have parents, then children and grandchildren. Someone you can leave a legacy for…

Anger that comes and goes….sits and simmers…depression sets in and an explosion is waiting to happen! Why? Oh, how did I get to this point? I feel lost in a deep forest with no light, no food, no water, no touch, no familiar voice telling me how to get out. But…then comes God’s restorative power!

I am learning NOT to compare my life with someone else. This only tends to add more darkness to my Life-Canvas by giving me a false sense of what my life should be like. The depression will just become deeper and darker.

Pain, physical, frustrating, continual… No break…tests, x-rays, doctor after doctor, jump through hoops…will there ever be a time of no pain?

Lonely…how can others see our pain if we choose to wear a mask? Acting as if everything is okay when in all reality we are drowning! Going down once…twice….where is the hand that could reach down and pull us out before we actually drown? Will it come in time?

What is my purpose? How am I supposed to move on? Father God, you have allowed what I thought was my life and purpose, to be altered. You now have a mess to work with. Because nothing is standing in Your way, You can paint over my canvas completely so my life can begin again! Fresh and new!

And then there’s Jesus! Just as you go down for the last time, He steps in. There is a new question in my heart now! Instead of “why”, I begin to ask “what”. What do you want to teach me, Lord? The answer…there is more! He has more love for me than I can imagine! There is more opportunity to minister to others that are experiencing what I have gone through. Because of Jesus, I can be the hand that reaches down to them in their time of need. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 tells us that God is comfort and that He comforts us in all our troubles. Because of this, we can comfort those that are in trouble. This scripture liberated me in a way that I never thought I could be. It helped to partially explain the “why”.

The other part of “why” God has shown me, is the fact that we live in a fallen world. People have free will and make choices that can and do alter other’s lives forever. Consequences happen…

As we allow God to work in our lives and we spend time with Him, He will begin to paint light onto our blank Life-Canvas. He will be the Master Artist in our lives if we will just turn over all we have. Our Life-Canvas, the paint, and the brushes! The joy of having Him paint our lives is overwhelming! He brings that long sought-after peace that passes all human understanding into our lives!

When I see the light begin to come into my life, I just want to praise Him! He loves me, He loves you…He can and will make a masterpiece out of the smeary mess of my Life-Canvas. (Psalms 23:3 NLT) He renews my strength; he guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His Name. Thank you, thank you, Jesus!


Nancy D. Ludlum

  1. Designer, Speaker/Author
  2. SHINE Creatively!
  3. Blog –