Our Year in Pictures
Updated: Feb 1
Over the last year, Christina and I have done several paint-by-numbers. It is an activity we can do together, it forces us to sit down, and take some time on something. But the process, or at least our reaction to it, can be rather comical. “Why would this color be here? Isn’t an elephant supposed to be gray? Oh! I just painted 14 instead of 16! I don’t think this is gonna look right.” Most of the time, however, we just needed the surrounding colors to be filled in, or we needed to take a step back and took a look at the whole picture once it was complete. The nice thing about the paint by numbers is that besides just being a very poor painter, like myself, who has trouble staying within the lines provided, there is very little you can mess up. The directions are set before you, the map is given, and even a small picture of the end goal is provided. How I wish that were the case with so many other things in life. Sure, it may make some things boring, after all, paint-by-numbers is relaxing rather than exciting. But at least you could know and see how you were on the path you wanted to be on.
Our journey in Malawi, as with I suppose anything that is not only on a piece of canvas, has not been so clearly defined. We do have directions, written directions even: Scripture, love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves. We also have years of training behind us, giving us practical ways to show that love. But even with training, the lines on the canvas are not so clear to our eyes. The details, the everyday decisions we are called to make are not in print before us to simply follow. “Is this supposed to be green, or red?” Is this a leaf or a flower? Should we be spending our time training local pastors in community health, or should we be branching out into the refugee camp?” I am a horrible painter, and when it comes to making decisions about how best to love my neighbor, I try to do my best, but again, I am sure I make mistakes. How grateful I am, then, that God simply calls us to love Him and to love each other. He has invited us to take part in his Kingdom, to take part in the painting of it in this world.
Our actions matter, the love we are able to show is real, as are the results of our less-than-inspiring acts.
And so, we are called to take very seriously the decisions we make, and the ways in which we treat others. But we are also blessed to know that God’s grace and mercy is big enough to cover our mistakes.
As Christina and I continue in Malawi, I am not always certain exactly what the painting of our time here will end up looking like. The future brush strokes we make, and how much they will affect our community here is yet to be seen. We cannot see the final image with our eyes, but by faith we can know and see that it is one of a Kingdom where we love our neighbor.
That all being said, we are so blessed with the things that have taken place so far. Over the last year, most of the things we have been able to witness have simply been very small steps in one direction or another, yet how lucky are we to be able to see the Kingdom of God breaking into the world, correcting our misdeeds, our shortcomings, our sins, one small brush stroke, one small change at a time.