|At my easel a few years ago.|
I'm busy writing an article that includes a lot of information about easels, and as I pondered what to write the Lord seemed to whisper a small thought about what an easel represents. I can't include this in the article, of course, since the magazine is about art, not faith, but I want to share it here.
What's an easel for? It's the structure that your artwork leans on, the place where it's supported as it's painted. My board or canvas leans against the strong, stable upright piece, held securely in place so that my strokes don't go astray. It keeps my work at eye level, directly under the light so I can see clearly as I add large, sweeping strokes or small, delicate details. It's always there, waiting for me to start another painting or work on one in progress, standing quietly in the studio until I'm ready to spend some time before it.
I wouldn't be the first to liken an easel to an altar. In a primitive sense it could easily seem to be the place where sacrifices are made or some kind of warped self-worship happens. But I see it entirely differently. I see it as a representation of the role Jesus plays in my life.
Look at it this way: I lean on Him, I'm supported by His hand holding me all the time. He is strong and stable, upright and unmoving beneath me. No matter what I do, He's there keeping me from going astray. He holds me still, shining light on what I do, placing it all right before my eyes so I can clearly see. Whether I make big moves or small ones, if I examine them in the light of His Word I see clearly what I have done, and what I should do as a result. He's always there, waiting for me to come to Him in prayer or study or worship, meeting me in the midst of a trial or when all is well, whenever I want to spend time before Him.
No, it isn't a big enough picture. I know that. God is more than a mere easel, and I don't intend to demean Him in any way. But on some minor level I see many things in my life and art that remind me of the basics of my faith. I don't think the Lord is offended by this comparison.
The cross is the unfailing stability of my life, the lynch-pin around which my faith circles, whether I'm glorying in salvation, mourning my sin, or returning again to worship Jesus, the God/Man who actualized the gift that makes me whole and gives me life eternal. Far more than a mere easel--yet I believe Jesus would understand the relationship between the cross and a humble wooden object crafted to serve a greater purpose, by His grace.