Creativity runs in my blood, but true artistic talent hit the skids during the third grade.

Still, there’s a part of me that likes to dabble and create just for the sake of it.

A few years ago, this creativity streak got the better of me. I purchased a blank canvas, a tube of paint, a fancy brush, and dove into the project I was sure would produce something cute to hang in my home. (I chalk my deluded thinking up to the enticing lure of Pinterest.)

When I finished, TA-DA! I hid my pitiful work of art in the bedroom. There it stayed until my son, a preschooler at the time, spotted it.

“Oh Momma, it’ soooooo bea-UUUUU-tiful.” Based on his reaction, I was sure he saw this:

What he really saw was this:

My son smiled some more. “Momma, I see flowers. They’re orange. And I see brown. Oh, Momma, so pretty.” Then he squeezed my face.

How refreshing and precious to be told your work is lovely, especially when you want to hide it from the world.

Perhaps you’ve felt the same pang of disappointment. You’ve poured your heart and soul into a project, a person, or a passion. You did your best, following the momentum and God’s gentle voice as He guided you.  However, when you stepped back to view your hard work, all that was visible were tacky shades of orange and brown you assumed needed to be hidden away.

What’s amazing about God is that He’s not bound by our limitations. His power overshadows our weaknesses. His love eliminates shame and drowns out discouragement.

God’s power can change our messes into masterpieces.   

2 Corinthians 4:7 describes us all as empty vessels who have the potential for God-ordained greatness. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

I see this jars of clay philosophy up close through the wonderful women who cross my path in my ministry. Sometimes addressing a crowd from the platform goes exactly as planned – the words are clear, the audience is engaged, and the message comes across clearly. Other times, everything seems to go wrong and it’s all I can do to escape the stage. It’s in those seemingly flawed moments when someone comes out of the crowd, thanking me for my encouragement. Another may mention how the message touched her heart, or how a verse that’s swirled around her head all week was spoken from the platform.

Thanks for your words.

It’s in those moments I realize they were never my words at all. God simply used me as the canvas on which to paint the message. The vessel in which to send the encouragement. The imperfect woman who offered her messy artwork to God, allowing Him to touch it up.

The same is true for you, since His power is at work in each one of us.

God takes what we willingly give Him. Sometimes it’s an orange and brown childish painting we think is so undeserving of a spot over the mantle. But He can turn our feeble attempts into a masterpiece. It’s His power that shines through us, not ours. It’s his grace that transcends. It’s His forgiveness that frees. We are just the means by which to transport it.

My silly little painting never made it center stage in my house, but it did stay up in my office for a long time. It’s a reminder that God wants to work in us and through us – no matter what’s available on our canvas.