Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

From Grind To Gift

Sometimes it takes a stepping back in order to get a clearer picture.

I once went to a national art exhibition celebrating Impressionism. Paintings from generations of painters, some important, some new. The big draws were Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, and Claude Monet. I studied art through school, so I was in my glory. And yet, as thrilling as it was to stand two feet from some of the most beautiful art ever created, it was when you backed up a significant distance that you could take in and appreciate all the glory that was their work.

Stand too close to Monet’s famous Water Lily Pond, and the brush strokes made no sense and your eyes crossed.

Until last week, that was how I was viewing my blog, it’s purpose, and even my purpose.

Far too close for so long that my vision was compromised. Couldn’t see where I was going, couldn’t see the overall picture and plan. Didn’t even realise who’d been wielding the brush.

It had been a while since I had taken a step back to see the bigger picture.

So last week, I took a week off from the blogging grind, to step back and make sure I knew what the picture was turning out to be, what my roll was in it, how to appreciate it more, and ultimately who the painter really was.

My first discovery was that I had begun to see it as a grind.

And not the gift it was originally.

I had been plodding along without taking a rest or a breath. And starting to let it run me! And lost track of the Master Painter’s voice and instruction in all the scrambling to keep up with what was once a joy and passion.

Anybody else know that feeling?

You take on an exciting new project, you map out your first steps, your goals, what you hope to see when it’s all done. That renovation, that corporate presentation, that report for the PTA, that new landscaping, whatever that big deal is. And at first you’re on track, but some time later, without some personal space, things start looking murky, fuzzy, and instead of stepping back to see better we just keep trying harder to make the tiny details make sense.

Throw a Dysthymic episode or two in there for good measure, and you get a canvas full of blah instead of something beautiful.

I had forgotten this calling could be beautiful. That I was to work hard for my readers, but thrill in that work. That the hustle was to be healthy and happy and hearty. I was so fixated on details and words that I lost track of the the why. And the Who. And what He intended the brush strokes to be.

A gift instead of a grind.

In the murky middle all I could see was obligation when I should have been seeing the offering.

So maybe you know the feeling. I hadn’t stepped back in a long time.

I took last week off the minute I realised.

Let my eyes focus once more.

Allowed my heart to focus once more.

Left room for the Master to reveal the plan for the picture He wants to paint through me. Turns out I kept wrenching the brush away in my pursuit of doing well, when all along He was waiting to really pour something beautiful onto this canvas Himself.

And here we are at a new week. And I’m kind of thrilled to get back into this, to offer it all up daily. Each day becoming a fresh foray into this painting with words inspired by Him, offering up the canvas for something I could never accomplish on my own, and I’m not sure why I tried. There is something, a refreshing for the soul, that takes place when we step aside, step way back, confer with the Father, and give the canvas and brush and passion over to Him.

There is joy in the offering.

We just have to choose it.

Going from grind to gift again!

Sometimes we have to ask God to inject our tasks and plans and works with His life-giving joy and power. Trading in our limitations for His unlimited purposes.

Less about me, more about Him.

So that the grind becomes the gift again.

So that we keep seeing that picture more clearly.

After figuring out how He longs to feed that passion for the things we undertake each day, how He longs to power it all, and nothing on our own strength, I can go into the rest of the year fuelled by Him, and not trapped by or obligated to the mess of tiny details that take our focus off of Him and attempt to snuff out the passion that was first there.

I can declare this each time I lift my offering with gladness;

“I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.” – Psalm 40:8

Let the blogging begin once more.

Let the adventures and projects and dreams commence.

Let’s make choices to let Him hold the brush, to lift the canvas to Him, to rejoice in the brush strokes He puts down for us. And to run with them, to be passionate about the painting as it’s being shaped.

Are you with me?

What kinds of things have you needed transformed out of the grind? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, friends. Let’s do this together.

Let the grind finally become the gift again.

5 Comments

  1. Thanks Christine. I’ve really been struggling lately and my “pen”” seems to be dried up. Ideas aren’t fleshing out. Nothing is just begging to be shared. You’ve given me a perspective to consider. Is God showing me the joy that comes when He gives me words? Am I learning a new process? Is He allowing me to see how much fun it is to put a study together by showing me the frustration that comes when I’m not working on one? As I seek His face on this, rather than praying for a way to feed others, I’ll ask Him, “Lord, please show me what I can offer up to You with gladness.”

    • Christine Duncan

      June 1, 2015 at 9:18 AM

      It’s not an easy transition to make, at least that’s what I found last week. The first couple of days off, I spent them with a thousand worries spinning in my head “what if I can’t make this work anymore?” “how do I do this without feeling spent every day?”… until God said to stop. To rest and trust.
      The minute I did, I felt the shift.
      Sometimes He has to conk me on the head with a anvil-sized response before I get it, lol.
      I have no doubt God has some amazing things to say through you, Angela. He already has. I know He’s used you to minister to my heart on several occasions.
      Keep seeking Him for the passion behind it. Don’t give up.
      Sending you hugs, and much love, lady!

  2. Marie Bilston

    June 1, 2015 at 1:48 PM

    It’s the trusting and the waiting. Sometimes we find we can do one or the other, but God asks us to “Trust AND Wait”! A great message by James McDonald, from Walk in the Word is worth listening to. Find it on his page and get some really great practical words from Psalm 39! I appreciate your honesty, Christine. Your words today will minister to many, I am certain. It did to me.

  3. Abby Breuklander

    June 1, 2015 at 4:31 PM

    Love love and love!! Since things seem to be getting better I’m at this “What now?” point of my life. I really don’t have a clue about what I’m supposed to do next, but I’m sure it’s going to be an adventure!

    • Christine Duncan

      June 2, 2015 at 1:55 PM

      And how exciting, Abby… He could be readying you to go anywhere, do anything, impact someone. Your buoyant love for life has already impacted me greatly, and I’m sure it has for others… so it’s just trusting and waiting on Him!
      Enjoy this adventure, girl! Thankful I get to watch it unfold 😉

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