Musings – Blank Canvas

Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can’t do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can’t’ once and for all. 

– Vincent Van Gogh 

Reading these words from the frantic mind of of the great Dutch painter reminds me of doing ministry. There are those moments when we look at the work we are doing and the direction it is going and find ourselves standing there, brush in hand so to speak, with no idea of what to do. We look for the ‘will’ of God thinking that a specific, certain message that can be attributed to God will somehow be the perfect color, perfect shade to inspire a great revival or rebirth of the people.  

I like Van Gogh’s response to the blank canvas: start painting. Break the spell of you can’t and get to work. As I think about these words, I believe that is where we are as a church, the place of getting some paint on the canvas. It is the place where we need to do the things we know to do; the love God, love neighbor kind of stuff, but maybe in new ways. It is remembering and taking care of the church family while reaching out to find new members of the family. 

It is also developing the willingness to see the possibilities that may exist in things we have looked over or dismissed. What might not be attractive or interesting to you or me may be the exact thing that someone else – inside or outside the church – needs and is drawn to. It may be that that something is the something that draws them back or keeps them connected to the family when they might otherwise give up and walk away. 

So, start slapping some ministry on the canvas. Mix in things and people you didn’t think went together or even belong on the canvas together. Let ministries run together, mix together to create new things. Never be afraid of the possibilities only the possibility of doing nothing.