“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6 (NIV)
There’s this little painting that hangs in my home. Most people wouldn’t consider it a masterpiece. I only paid $5 for it at an estate sale, but I like it because it speaks redemption to my soul every time I look at it.
I don’t know what happened to the gal who painted it. All I know is it seems something about her life fell apart. And one day a company opened her front door to strangers. They walked through all the sacred spaces she once called home and bought the stuff her life had collected. I guess I’m too sentimental to attend estate sales; I couldn’t stand it.
But I also couldn’t leave without rescuing something in her creative collection. Then I had the strangest notion to go on a wild adventure to find this unknown painter. I pictured it like an epic scene in a movie where the music crescendos and I find her living in a New York high-rise. I would knock on her door and make the great assumption that she would be thrilled with my announcement.
“I just want you to know I love your work. I bought one of your paintings and it speaks a message of redemption to me every day. And I treasure it.”
Surely then she would get misty eyed, invite me in for coffee and share her devastatingly beautiful story. We would become wonderful unlikely friends. She would go on to become a famous painter. And live happily ever after.
But life isn’t usually as epic as what we see on movie screens. It’s untidy and so unpredictable that our fragile hearts get broken at best, crushed at worst. And sometimes it’s just easier to run away than to risk letting the shards of the fallout cut away the little bit of life still left in us.
No crescendo to the music. No epic arc to the story. No lasting friendship. Just a $5 painting that hangs in my kitchen.
And that’s all I know.
Life sometimes keeps us from details that are better left alone. It keeps some of the blanks blank on the outline of this message.
Does it ever drive you crazy when a speaker gives you an outline with blanks but then skips some of the points? Me too.
We like complete outlines. All the blanks filled in. All the gaps closed. All the details disclosed. And all the why questions answered to our satisfaction.
But that’s not the way life is. Some speakers are disorganized and forgetful. Some gaps too wide to close. And there are some questions for which there are no apparent answers. I believe that’s the way God wants it. Our all-knowing God not only allows this but actually designed life to be this way.
Without blanks, we would have no room for Him to enter in and write His answers. For Him to become the Way when there is no way. For Him to be the Truth when lies long to be what consume our thoughts. For Him to be the Life He’s designed on the other side of our crumbling attempts to control our stories (John 14:6). Our God is not fickle, forgetful or fragile in any way. He does not make mistakes. He purposes the gaps. He allows sacred spaces and blank places. He leaves room.
If we had all the blanks filled in, we would explain away God’s part in our story. God doesn’t want to be explained away. He wants to be invited in. He wants us to make room for His additions to our story.
One time God was told, “There is no room,” and He turned an ordinary stable into an unforgettable sanctuary. “No room” became a space through which Jesus Christ stepped through glory to the grit and grime of this sin-soaked world.
What did He come to bring? Redemption.
And what do the blanks and unanswered questions of your life provide space for? Redemption.
So why is it OK with me if I never know the details of my kitchen painting? Redemption.