Have you ever watched an artist – a painter, sculptor, woodworker, or other – while working and wondered what they were making? Or maybe you came across a new art form you’ve never heard of and wondered how something amazing could be made from the raw materials you were staring at? The process of creating is messy, and points along the way are even considered ugly by onlookers. It’s usually only the master who can see the masterpiece before it’s created.
Often the processes we follow God through, the different journeys during our lives He brings us on, are ugly, messy, and definitely not considered a masterpiece. But the end result is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, and definitely a masterpiece.
I recently went through a three-year transition. Maybe it’s just me, but transitions are easier when I know what the end is or when it will end. This transition started without knowing how long it would take or what the end would be. Now through the transition, I can see why God did things the way He did. That didn’t help at the time, though.
Before I go any further, let me explain what transition means here. I quit my job before I knew what I was doing next. I was not living anywhere specifically, was not attending “my” church or regularly with my community, and no longer had a vehicle. This all happened over three weeks, though the beginning of transition was seven months prior when I had to make an unexpected temporary move and put everything in storage. What followed was not how that transition was supposed to end (according to me, at least).
For the first two years, I lived a transitional, nomadic lifestyle with no understanding of the plan. I was still based in Southern California and didn’t travel much, but I was moving around the area helping others by doing one-time gigs like housesitting, childcare, and pet sitting. I regularly didn’t know what I was doing the next day or week, but the details – transportation, places to stay, etc. – all came together. I always had work, a place to stay, food, and a vehicle to use or people to travel with. (Praise God for provision along the way!)
After those first two years, God started stirring in my spirit that I would be moving out of Southern California. I side-eyed that thought for a couple months, acknowledging it was there without giving it attention. I love (yes, present tense) Southern California and wanted to retire and die there. It was a couple months before I could really enter into a conversation with God about leaving. It was entirely an act of obedience to leave. Two and a half years into transition, and about six months after God first spoke to me about moving, I had my answer as to where I was moving. That was another major act of obedience because it was somewhere I always said I wouldn’t move to and don’t like. It took another seven months before I actually moved, mostly because logistics and details needed to come together. The day I found out I could move was the same day, three years later, from when I put all my belongings into storage. I moved and completed the transition four days later.
Time could have stopped at any point during those three years and what was happening probably would have been viewed as a mess. Most, including myself at times, considered it ugly. But the beauty is in the finished work. It’s not a masterpiece until it’s finished, but no masterpiece exists without a messy and sometimes ugly process. I’m so thankful for the finished work. It’s definitely a masterpiece.