A blank page.
What to write?
Starting a new post seems intimidating, and yet…
Imagine the possibilities!
How many great works began as a blank page of paper or parchment or vellum or papyrus?
Think of the magnificent chronicles of history that span the length and breadth of humanity’s earthly dominion from ancient civilizations to today.
Or the grand musical compositions that redefine the word majestic.
Or the riveting theatrical works that stir up the range of emotions from weeping to exuberant joy and outrageous laughter.
Consider the brilliant books that plumb the depths of the human experience, imparting quiet introspection to glorious inspiration.
And marvel for a moment at the extraordinary documents and declarations that altered the course of history like the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution!
And Calvin and Hobbes. You know, the cartoon. (No reason. I just really like Calvin and Hobbes.)
Yes, grand and glorious or common and silly, all these great works began with a blank page.
Before computers (Yeah, I’m a dinosaur. So what?), we had to use actual writing implements such as I addressed in my post With Pen In Hand. But where I previously focused on the instrument, this post focuses on the paper.
I can still remember furiously writing with the famous No. 2 pencil. My hand cramped up as both the pencil and the eraser grew shorter. One of my biggest frustrations was how the paper looked when I submitted it to the teacher. Yes, it was a masterpiece (says me), but the words could hardly be discerned from all the background residue due to multiple erasures. Such is the way with the echoes of errors! Those smudges revealed struggles and faux pas that tattled on my intellectual weaknesses and technical shortcomings, indelibly smeared for the teacher to see.
(Oh, don’t give me that look! For those of mature age, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Drop that high and mighty, I’ve never made a mistake in my life attitude.)
I figured the only way I could impress the teacher was to finish my work, grab a fresh, clean piece of paper, and meticulously rewrite my assignment. As an aside, this was also one of the Inquisition’s favorite torture techniques.
But it looked beautiful when handed in! All the evidence of bad ideas, false starts, and thoughtless mistakes in spelling and grammar were wonderfully banished from existence.
It looked great even if I had to use a whole ream of paper to polish the final product. I sometimes felt embarrassed that I had to ask for more paper because of my prehistoric cave etchings. But my parents always had more, freely given. No sweat. Why? Because they wanted me to do well in school.
I realized something today as I sat and stared at my computer screen with its “new document” ready and waiting, a cyber version of the paper blank page. Not only was a blank sheet of paper a fresh start, but it was also a brilliant foundation for a completed composition.
When our Heavenly Father transforms our life at the moment of spiritual rebirth through Jesus’ sacrifice and the Holy Spirit’s work, we get a fresh start, a blank page ready to be inscribed with a life lived for the Lord.
We are free to begin writing a magnificent account of God’s grace in us and through us! An account just as magnificent, grand, riveting, brilliant, and extraordinary as any literary, musical, or dramatic work we’ve ever experienced.
And for some of us, a little more like Calvin and Hobbes.
Regardless, our Heavenly Father will complete His self-determined assignment – making us a great work that looks exactly like His Son. He has assured us through Paul, “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Did you catch that? “…started a good work in you!” Not a lousy, mistake-filled, inept work, but a good work. And He will help you write your story despite your bad ideas, false starts, and thoughtless mistakes. We write, He corrects.
But what about the residue, the echoes of errors, all those errant marks and subsequent erasures of past sins? When God erases through His forgiveness, it’s gone, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). In His eyes, the foundation paper is always blazing white and pure. But in our minds, we still see that residue resting on our life page. So, like a loving parent, God hands us a fresh sheet through the assurance of His word, “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Yes, our Heavenly Father hands us another fresh, clean sheet of paper with our good work carried over from yesterday so we can keep writing His story today. He hands us a spotless page every day, freely given, because He wants us to do well in life before we hand in our final assignment and graduate into eternity with Him.
Some of our lives will be like those grand histories, musical compositions, theatrical works, books, and documents that have rocked human history. Some of our lives will be more like Calvin and Hobbes. And that’s okay.
What matters is the foundation upon which it is written. God begins His work in us with a fresh sheet of paper. He gives us as many as we need every day, even moment by moment. And the final composition will bear none of the marks from all our bad ideas, false starts, and thoughtless mistakes because it’s a cooperative venture. Our lives will have a brilliant foundation highlighting our personal composition, written through our lives and deeds for Jesus.
So don’t beat yourself up over the echoes of the past, the struggles and faux pas tattling on your personal weaknesses and spiritual shortcomings.
Don’t fret, forget. Take hold of that fresh sheet of paper and scribble for Jesus…even if the final product looks more like Calvin and Hobbes than the Magna Carte. The work will be perfect, standing out in high relief on a flawless page.
It will be a Master’s piece!
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts