One of my bosses is building himself an arcade machine from scratch. He’s built the box for the game, found a monitor for it, has speakers at the ready, and has sourced all the different computer parts for it. There’s even going to be a slot for putting in coins to play the games (and a way to retrieve them!). It’s a fun project and he likes telling me how his progress is going. I can follow the project, but only to a point. Once he starts talking about different computer components and the way it all communicates and the various cards that hold the hundreds of games he’ll be able to play on this machine, I get a little lost. I nod and ahh and smile as best I can. But. I am pretty clueless.
What’s the last thing you googled? The last thing I googled was ‘what is the multi-universe theory?’. One of my kids has done a research project on it and me, being clueless, wanted to learn a little something something, so I could ask my kid a few semi-intelligent questions on the subject.
I (mostly) have a pretty good handle on the things that I know that I know. And I (mostly) have a pretty good handle on the things that I know I don’t know, although sometimes I get both these things wrong. But I was thinking the other day that one thing I do know, with all my heart and mind and soul, is that I’m so very grateful that I know the love of God to be true, and I feel that it surrounds me and sets me up for whatever life may chuck at me, as it is the ‘undercoat of paint’ in my very being.
I’m no picasso, and I’ve never painted a wall in my life – you kinda need to own a home to do that – BUT – I got this interesting picture in my head the other day so run with me?
Undercoats of paint serve as a foundation upon which to layer more paint, on your canvas. Imagine for a moment that you can cover yourself in a layer of love, of dependable, constant love, of agape love (God’s faithful love for us) and on that foundation, other things are attached. On that foundation, the way you think, the way you act is attached.
Undercoats of paint also put a pop of base colour into your work, that allow your final work to be impacted in some way. Now here’s the thing about painting and layers: sometimes the top coats of paint don’t end up the way we’re completely happy with. Sometimes the paint is tinted slightly wrong or different to what we may have ordered. Or the shades are slightly different to how we envisioned they would be when we looked at the paint chip cards. Or we do big oopsies with our brush strokes and make a mess of things. And sometimes little finger prints leave marks or bugs fly in and get stuck. All kinds of things happen to make our end result with the top layers, just not all we want them to be. Life is full of those curveballs that make our lives not what we want or plan for or desire. But if we’ve got that base layer down as best we can – at least we’ve got a chance of success. At least we’ve got a good foundation for further layers to go on. At least our base is steadfast and smooth.
If you get your undercoat of paint right, if you can fully accept God’s unending love for you, and kinda ‘cover’ yourself in that, then your final layers of how you see the world, how you respond to situations, how you deal with life, those things are more likely to be positive and helpful. And it doesn’t actually matter if your top layers of paint are sometimes not quite right, because the good thing about paint is it can be painted over with another layer. Got a sticking point that you’re struggling with? Try another layer, with a different perspective.
So how am I so assured of God’s love for me? How can this be one of the things that I know that I know that I know? I choose to believe what I read of God’s love for me in the bible.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost: Not a man, not mouse.
I choose to believe these words and countless others, that talk of God’s love for me. But these are not just for little ‘ole me – they are for you too.
And I’ve seen His goodness – the signs of His love and care for me. Time and time again. The gifts that are my children – after I went through seasons of infertility and was told I wouldn’t be able to conceive again. The gift of a diagnosis, after three years of horrendous pain and ongoing tests. The provision of material goods after we gave away/ sold nearly everything we owned and moved to another country to follow God’s nudgings for us. The fact our children don’t hate us and are socially and academically just fine after being moved to two different countries in the space of thirteen months. These are just a few of the ways I can look at my life and remember just how much my Father God loves me and cares for me.
I look back and I see His goodness and I know His love, and I look forward, and I know there are so many things I still don’t know, and I still may have trouble making the top coat of paint in my thinking all smooth and uniform and just ‘right’, but the undercoat of God’s love is the perfect place to build a good foundation on. God’s love, care and kindness, form brushstroke after brushstroke after brushstroke, on this masterpiece in the making. And in yours too.