A couple of the commissions I was asked to do were charcoal drawings, a medium I haven’t done in a long time. I studied studio drawing in art school, kind of my first love in art. I forgot how much I missed working with this medium. (A lesson that it’s never too late to try something that lay dormant! A whole other topic.)
A mother asked me to draw her daughter a ballerina for her bedroom. As I began to sketch out this beautiful dancer with a stick of charcoal, the Lord reminded me of the verse Isaiah 61:3:
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
He began to speak to me about restoring beauty from ashes. He can take any of my difficulties or hardships and turn them into beauty. He is refining and burning out impurities in this life journey to make something beautiful. As I began to draw, I took a series of photos of my process. I felt like the Lord was showing me that there is a process to growth, much like a drawing. I kind-of chuckled as I was literally holding a stick of ash and creating this graceful, beautiful dancer. (I think the Holy Spirit has a great sense of humor.)
The definition of charcoal:
Charcoal is a light, black residue, consisting of carbon and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen.
When everything is burnt, all that’s left is a pile of ash. (I’m so excited that someone thought up charcoal as a medium for art…I bet the Lord gave someone the idea that they can take ash and use it to create and communicate! Brillant.) God knows our struggles and we may be “burnt” by life’s circumstances. But He also promises us He can turn a pile of ash into something beautiful. We all struggle with hard things, today I choose to say, Lord you take my ashes and turn them into something beautiful. I trust in your plan for my life. And teach me in the process to learn and grow, burning out the impurities that I need to overcome. You make all things new.
Here is the progression of the latest drawings I did… it’s fun to see them develop from ash into works of art.
- The Dancer – Commission: this speaks of grace, beauty and strength. I couldn’t help but think of all the hard work and training a ballerina goes through as I drew this, but look at the beauty of her hard work.
- The Sky – Commission: even in a black and white drawing, this shows the majesty and glory of the heavens above. God is truly the master artist. The composition of a sky is new everyday and changes throughout the day; it’s amazing.
- The Feather – I had to do this one for me. I was on a roll! I love the simplicity and beauty of a feather. Weightless, yet having the strength to fly. It also reminds me of God’s promise to protect us when we abide under the shadow of His wings.
What are the ashes in your life? Nothing is too far-gone for God to make beautiful. He is in the business of restoring all things new. When we give Jesus the charcoal of our life, He will draw the most beautiful picture.
Bless you all today,