Last week Eric and I were in Italy while I started teaching a study abroad program that I’m continuing this week. We had an amazing ten days in Florence before he left, walking a minimum of 72 miles in the days he was here. We call it our Italian weight loss program. For some reason it’s just easier to have that lifestyle here.
While I could show you a host of pictures from our time with the students, today I was thinking about identity as I was reading another chapter of Wild and Free in anticipation of this week’s summer bookclub post. One of the places we went last week was the Uffizi Gallery. If you’ve read Shadowed by Grace, you know that some pivotal scenes in that book happen at the Uffizi, so it was an absolute thrill to go there last year on a tour with the students. But when you tour with a group, you don’t get to savor and enjoy the art. It’s a rush to the five or so paintings that the art critics consider important, and then you move on to the next painting or place. This year we wanted to savor and soak in the art. So Eric had a ticket for 11:30, and I joined him at 1:30 after lecturing for four hours and answering student questions.
I didn’t expect to get revelation while we were there.
We spent 4.5 hours there together, savoring the art. Eric got the audio guide so we could understand what we were looking at. What I loved, though, was that during a couple of the temporary exhibits, we could actually back up and go examine a piece again after we had more understanding.
This Leonardo da Vinci painting is an example. The Adoration of the Magi is an in process painting — Leonardo had a habit of not finishing his work–that has been carefully restored and is now on temporary display. I wish you could see the postcard we bought. It shows a painting that is all sepia toned. What looks white and light in my photos, is yellow and orange with dark tones of brown. The richness of color and detail is lost in the pre-restored painting. Time, dust, the elements have all taken their toll on this work and left it a shadow of its imcomplete glory.
Now hang with me a moment.
This is like our lives.
We look at ourselves and see a damaged painting. We see the yellow, orange and brown flames of sin. The way it has singed our souls and left us broken and unlovable.
But the master touch of our Creator and Father is slowly removing the layers of varnish and damage. With the finest paintbrush He cleans with a gentle touch. Then He highlights and brings out our true identity, what He sees us to be. He sees the details like the elephant sketched in the image to the right.
He sees the clear blue of our sky. The outlines of His purpose in our lives. The growing color of His grace and calling.
Where we see brokenness, He sees healing. Where we see damaged goods, He sees beauty waiting to be restored. Where we see slaves of sin, He sees His joint-heirs with Christ. And it’s in that identity — the one He has for us — that we can step into freedom and authority and that His truth can come to life.
How has God restored your life?