There stood the white canvas on its easel, with a chair, all alone in a lush green meadow. Beyond the canvas in the distance towered a jagged blue range of mountains, and behind the canvas a dark forest was stretched out reaching for the great blue sky.
The Great Man approached the canvas, brush in hand. He sat down and began to paint. He painted and painted, loving every stroke. He painted His favorite things, which were from His heart. Once He had brushed out the setting, He added a new thing. He painted a figure resembling Himself, into the picture. He liked it and smiled as He sat back and stretched. He thought His picture a fine piece of art—and it was.
The Great Man’s servants came to look at the painting. They marveled at the new figure resembling the Great Man. With awestruck worship they began to sing for Him. The Great Man loved how they sung, and it made His joy greater.
But something strange began to happen on the canvas. The figure which the Great Man had painted started to drip off. The servants were shocked. Right there before their eyes, the painting’s most amazing figure was messing up the whole piece. The Great Man was devastated: He knew what had happened, and He knew what would need to be done in order to reverse it.
The Great Man sat down again and began to paint like never before. He painted with passion and love for His painting. He always painted what would ultimately make the picture more beautiful, but sometimes the figures in the painting did not understand. Sometimes the little figures thought that the Painter was making things worse—some even questioned whether the Great Man existed, or maybe He had forgotten about them and was letting the painting drip away into oblivion. The Great Man loved the painting and the figures, and He knew that if they would just trust His strokes, they would eventually understand His love for them, but they had become stubborn in their dripping.
The hardest strokes for the figures to understand were those which took other figures out of the picture. But the Great Man knew that sometimes figures had to be taken out in order to perfect His plan, and reveal His glory and love to them. If the figures had feared the Great Man while in the painting, He would breathe true life into them so that they could live in the Great Man’s world—the real world. But if they had not feared Him, they were forever separated from His guidance and presence—a most horrific thing.
Finally, all was ready for his plan to take affect. He gathered the servants around Him so that they could watch. And again He sat down, but this time He did not paint more figures resembling Himself. Instead, He painted Himself right into the picture.
The servants did not understand. What was going to happen? The Great Figure spent much time in the painting while the Great Man continued to paint. After much painting, the Great Figure dripped all over the canvas, just as the other figures did, and mixed up all the colors. But when the Great Man began to clean away the mixed colors, the servants saw that there were some figures that had stopped dripping. These new figures were beautiful.
“I love them!” the Great Man said.
The Great Man continued to paint. Fervently yet patiently He stroked out the figures, who sometimes dripped, but when they looked to the Great Figure who had been sent to save them, the Great Man forgave them.
He, the Great Man, did not intend for the dripping figures to remain this way forever—His plan was not finished. He decided that there would come a point on the canvas at which He would quit painting and discard it entirely. But first He would transpose all His beloved figures, who had been saved from dripping, into this awesome World wherein the Great Man painted. It was a much greater World than that with the drippings, and He knew the figures would love it there.
This was His plan and He was determined to continue painting beauty onto the canvas until He came to that one point. He loved each of His figures, and because He loved them He had given them the choice to look on the Great Figure for help, or to continue dripping. If they did look at the Great Figure, they were saved, if they did not—they were lost forever. It broke the Great Man’s heart to think that any of the figures would be forever lost and forgotten, but He restrained His passionate love in order that they might respond to His calling on their own accord.
If you were a figure, what would you chose? An eternal Heaven? Or a temporary painting?