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Psalm 139: 14 (New International Version)

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

In a discipleship group I was a part of a few years back, I remember studying this verse and being surprised by the leader’s explanation of it.  To be honest, I had never really understood the use of “fearfully” in describing something that was supposed to be good, which I assumed the psalmist meant because he paired the word with wonderfully. But when the person teaching helped me to understand the verse better, I gained a new appreciation of this verse that I will share with you.

She likened God’s view of me to that of a skilled artist who envisions his creation in his mind, sketches it on paper, then carefully sets up his easel, lays out his brushes, and positions himself just right in front of  his canvas before lovingly and carefully laying down the first brush stroke. This same artist, who is a master, has purposed to create not just any picture, but a masterpiece, which he will scrutinize as he brings his vision to fruition. He will fuss over every detail, sometimes leaning in very closely, sometimes standing far off, but always with the intention of making the exact right addition to his creation, until it meets his satisfaction. This, she said, is what the psalmist means to convey in the verse above. I am God’s masterpiece, a breathtaking, one of a kind, work of art, prized by my Creator.

God handpicked and fashioned every feature I have, from the texture of my hair to the shape of my toes. Knowing who he wanted me to become, he has selected the perfect combination of experiences he wants me to live out in order to mold and shape me into the image of the Son. I am a masterpiece. Except today, I feel more like a kindergarten finger-painting. If I am a masterpiece, then so are you. But to me you look like the snobby barista who served me my morning coffee, or the careless driver who (while texting!) rear-ended my car, or the nasty mom in the parking lot yelling at her child for hitting her sister (oh wait…that was me) – well you get the idea. The point is that I don’t feel much like a masterpiece and today to me, you look like…can I say it? A bum.

But you are God’s masterpiece. And the same time he took with me, he took with you. He loves us the same. He values us both the same, regardless of how we view ourselves or how we view each other. What if instead of  focusing in on what I don’t like about you, I saw you the way God does? In his book, “No Perfect People Allowed,” John Burke writes:

“If you saw a Rembrandt covered in mud, you wouldn’t focus on the mud or treat it like mud. Your primary concern would not be the mud at all – though it would need to be removed. You’d be ecstatic to have something so valuable in your care. But if you tried to clean it up by yourself, you might damage it. So you would carefully bring this work of art to a master who could guide you and help you restore it to the condition originally intended. When people begin treating one another as God’s masterpiece waiting to be revealed, God’s grace grows in their lives and cleanses them.”

How different my perception of you or of myself would be if I purposed to see you are me as God does – a masterpiece waiting to be revealed. The psalmist understood, so he praised God. As we begin to understand, we will do the same as well – and perhaps we will even manage to treat each other with more of the dignity and respect we deserve as fellow creatures.

Be blessed, Family.

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