From Josh Butler, The Pursuing God.
A beautiful re-presentation of the gospel’s saving narrative. Please pass this on.
I once had a vision of an artist painting a masterpiece. With lavish brushstrokes and bold strikes, he threw splashes of rich, beautiful color, pouring himself into his painting with passion on a large, wall-sized canvas bordered by an ornate gold frame. When the masterpiece was complete, he stood back and gazed with joy upon the wonder his hands had made.
As if to say, “It’s good.’
Something strange, however, happened next: a small, dark spot appeared in the center of the painting. I thought, What is that? The artist watched as the mold-like decay began to spread, like a crack in the windshield that starts at a point but gradually expands its fissures and fractures into the whole. The invasive intruder began to stretch its thin, straggly arms, creeping its corruption throughout the canvas. The masterpiece was threatened with destruction.What will the artist do? I wondered.
What happened next was the strangest, most bizarre thing I would ever have expected: the artist lifted his leg, extended it forward, and . . . stepped into the painting. First his leg entered the canvas, then his torso, and finally his head. Then, with a whoosh! the integration was complete: the artist stood within the work his hands had made, at the center of the masterpiece.
That’s weird, I thought.
But even stranger was what happened next: the moldy rot began to attack the artist! The great painter had positioned himself in such a way that the central point of invasion was right over his heart. As the tentacles retreated from the cornered edges, they sank into the artist himself, blow by blow. The creator received the corruption at the core of his masterpiece.
Until finally, with a whoomph! it was gone.
The masterpiece was restored. The artist had absorbed the destructive power until it was extinguished.
To my surprise, however, the great painter didn’t step back out of the painting. Having united his life with the canvas, he remained permanently at the center of his restored masterpiece.
In a way, however, restored doesn’t seem like the right word, because the work was now even more glorious with his presence inside. He brought radiance and beauty such that the painting seemed to glow with his life. There was a sense that this was always the way it was intended to be: the artist at the center of his painting.
This was the true masterpiece.