Receiving God's Blessings Through My Gift
The whole Bible story that inspired Joseph Made Ruler of Egypt can be found in Genesis 41:37-49, 53-57 (NLT). For this post, I'm going to focus on the beginning portion of the scripture, Genesis 41:37-42 (NLT).
"Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials. So Pharaoh asked his officials, 'Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?' Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.' Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.' Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck."
INSPIRATION & PURPOSE
“Joseph Made Ruler of Egypt” is the tenth piece in my 15-piece Joseph series. The Scripture above is what inspired the look of this design, but its meaning to me is much deeper. When I look at it, I’m reminded of Joseph’s experience which taught me about receiving God's blessings through my gift.
DISCOVERING MY GIFT
When I was little I would watch my mom paint for hours. I would pull up my little chair right next to her artist's table and watch in fascination as she would turn globs of paint into beautiful farm landscapes across the surfaces of hand saws, circular saws, antique milk jugs, and other old farming objects. My mom was a self-taught artist and her talent inspired me to become something great like her.
As I grew older, I asked her to show me how to paint. The funny thing is, she didn’t hand over the paintbrush right away. She first taught me how to draw and sketch. She encouraged me to think about perspective, depth, lighting, shading and countless other things that helped shape my mind into becoming an artist. Once I had a handle on the basics, she allowed me to paint on a small saw. My very first painting was, by far, the worst thing I ever created, but I loved every second of it. I was gifted to become an artist, but honing the talent would take some time.
HEARING THAT MY GIFT WASN'T GOOD ENOUGH
The day came when I left home and headed to college. I attended a small college in Wisconsin, where I majored in Graphic Design. It was the first time I was truly challenged by other students to push my gift to the next level. The playful and competitive sparring that happened during classes and in the art studios pushed me to become better.
At the end of my sophomore year, it came time for the professors to evaluate all the Art and Design students. They would check to see if we were talented enough to stay on track to receive the major in Art and Design we had our hearts set on or if they should redirect us to a different major. I will never forget that day because I was not prepared to hear what they had to say to me. After looking over my portfolio, all five professors unanimously said that I wasn’t ready to move on in that major. I sat there staring at them blankly and eventually argued back, wanting an explanation because I knew that I had been honing my skills since I was little. I'm sure their responses spoke to the way I had shown up to this evaluation so casually and ill-prepared, but all I heard in the moment was, "You're just not good enough." I was so crushed that I almost moved home to help my dad on the farm that very day, but something inside of me said something different: Prove them wrong.
In that moment, I had a decision to make. Would I listen to my professors or would I listen to what my gut was telling me? I was new to Christianity during that time, so I was still figuring out what faith was all about and how it worked. It wasn't until I later read Mark Batterson's book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars, that things started to make sense about faith. He wrote:
“Faith is unlearning the senseless worries and misguided beliefs that keep us captive. It is far more complex than simply modifying behavior. Faith is rewiring the human brain. We are literally upgrading our minds by downloading the mind of Christ.”
RECEIVING GOD'S BLESSINGS THROUGH MY GIFT
Over time, I learned that faith was the key to God's blessings. Since I believed that the gift of being an artist was God-given to me for a purpose, I then needed to trust that God would provide the opportunities for me to express those abilities and to receive his blessings. In my devotional called the Joseph Challenge, the author writes,
“Your gift will make room for you to be all that God wants you to be. Your gift will take you places and will draw people to you. Your gift will serve others. Your gift will bring favor, authority and responsibility. Your gift will make you stand out. Your gift comes before the position/title. The blessings of God validate and give purpose to our struggles.”
Joseph had every right to be bitter, upset and mad because of all the situations he went through, but Joseph remained faithful to God, which allowed him to keep a healthy heart and a focused mind. By constantly working on his gift, God blessed him by giving him the entire kingdom of Egypt. Similarly, I believe God allowed me to experience that heart-crushing moment with my professors so long ago to teach me about how faith and blessings are attached. If I had remained in the place of pain and frustration over being told that I wasn't a good enough artist, I would never have received the blessings that God had stored up for me.
Even though it seems like a lifetime ago, I keep that memory in the forefront of my mind as a reminder of all the blessings—big and small—that I have received from God because I have honed and used my gift as an artist. I have been given countless opportunities since then because I pushed through, stayed the course and trusted him even though it didn’t make sense or it seemed too difficult. Now, as I write this, I’m living out a childhood dream of creating art. What's more, it's art that tells God’s great story of redemption through several avenues of media (digital and painted), while helping persecuting Christians worldwide. God had plans to pour out his blessing on my life when the timing was perfect and when I was ready—I just needed to remain faithful and focused in order to receive it.