Mark had an ugly picture. He had had it since his childhood. Everywhere he had ever lived, he had brought it along. At first, his wife, Mary, was so impressed with him that she hardly noticed the picture.
But eventually, she did notice it. It was ugly … really ugly. She suggested he get rid of it. He protested. He explained it had been in his family forever. He felt it would be wrong to ever turn loose of it.
But his wife protested so loudly, Mark knew he had to do something. He reluctantly took the picture out of its frame and put another frame around it. This seemed to please Mary … for awhile. But then she noticed, it was the same ugly picture.
They moved the picture from one location to another in their house, trying to reach a compromise. But eventually Mark saw it too. The picture was just plain ugly. It was intruding into their lives with its ugliness.
A Talk With God
Mark talked to God about it. God gently suggested Mark get rid of the picture.
“But it’s been in my family for ages,” Mark protested.
“Is that a reason to keep it?” The Lord asked.
Mark thought long and hard about The Lord’s Question.
“I guess not, but I think I would feel lost without it. Even though I admit it is ugly, it just feels so … so … well … familiar.”
The Lord touched Mark on the shoulder.
“Come with Me. I want to show you something. I gave you this Gift so long ago, that I think you have forgotten. But I want you to look at it again.”
Mark followed the Lord into His Masterpiece Studio. Mark could see a large canvas near the window.
“What is it, Lord?” Mark asked.
“It is a portrait of you! I started it long ago. What do you think?”
Mark was amazed to see himself as a baby. The Lord had caught the twinkle in his eyes and the happy smile Mark seemed to have forgotten.
He looked closer and discovered there were many people in the picture … and … they were all him! There was a little dark haired boy riding a bike. He seemed to remember for just a moment the way the wind had felt in his hair, as he pedaled faster and faster.
There he was, running cross country in college. He saw himself trim and fit, as his body sliced through the finish ribbon.
And there he was with Mary. He was near the waterfall where he first realized he loved her. The Lord had captured so perfectly the way the mist dampened her hair. The water droplets on her face looked like diamonds. He remembered knowing for certain he didn’t want to spend another day apart from her.
There were other parts of this grand portrait that were not so happy. But the Lord had skillfully blended them together into a collage, that somehow looked beautiful, overall.
The rest of the canvas was blank. Mark felt as if he were falling.
“Lord, what does the blank part mean? Am I going to die now?”
“There are parts yet to paint,” The Lord said. “You need to choose your colors before I can continue.”
“What?” Mark said. “I thought You knew the Plans You have for me. What do I have to do with it?”
“Everything!” The Lord laughed. “I do indeed know the Plans I have for you. I can assure you they are Good Plans! But you are not a robot. You are a part of The Plan. You get to choose how closely your plan lines up with My Plan!”
The Lord handed Mark a paintbrush and directed him to more palettes of paint than he could have ever imagined.
“Wanna try your hand at making a Plan?” The Lord asked.
“Lord, we have to talk. I need to know more about Your Plan. And I’ve got some ideas I want to run past You.”
Out With The Old and In With The New!
Mark and The Lord spent a long time together that afternoon. He came back from The Lord’s Studio with a beautiful picture of the Mark he hoped to be.
The first order of business was getting rid of the old picture. He explained to Mary what had happened. She was delighted that Mark was finally getting rid of the ugly picture. Together they took it out to the trash and laughed together, as they released it from their lives.
Busy! Busy! Too Busy!
Months went by. Both Mark and Mary were enjoying the “new Mark.” Mark spent a lot of time with the Lord in His Studio, learning more and more from the Master Artist. But Mark was a busy man. And so, sometimes days would pass before Mark went to the studio. Then days stretched into weeks apart from the Lord. Mark would pop in now and then and say hi, and apologetically tell the Lord he needed to go.
The picture Mark and Mary loved so much began to get dusty. Mark even occasionally felt perhaps the colors were a bit too bright. He admitted to Mary that he sometimes sort of missed the old picture. Mary didn’t. It concerned her that Mark was beginning to act more and more like he had before they got the new picture.
Finally, in a heated exchange one day, Mary shouted the words that changed everything … “Mark, you said you would change, but you never do. You’ll never change!”
Mary stormed out of the house. The old picture were indeed gone, but somehow the frame had been left in the garage. Half in spite, and half because she thought maybe it would bring Mark comfort, Mary took the frame inside. She took the new frame off the picture and replaced it with the old frame.
When Mark saw it, he seemed both puzzled and pleased. It reminded him of what he now thought of as the “good old days.” He felt he could relax and not try so hard to be the person in the new picture.
One day, Mark and Mary came home to find the Lord surveying the picture.
“How are you doing, Mark? Done any work on your picture lately?”
Mark looked blank. He looked at the picture and all he could see was his former self. Mary looked too. Yep, the picture looked finished to her too.
The Lord shook His Head.
“I can see you have been entertaining My old adversary. He can never change My Pictures, but he can do what he has done to you. Mark and Mary, you’ve been framed!”
Definition of framed:
To make up evidence or contrive events,
so as to imprison someone falsely.
Points to Ponder From The Story
Do you have any old mental pictures of yourself you have carried into this new year with you? Any habits you can’t seem to give up?
Have you talked with your Creator about how He sees you, past, present and future?
How important is it to be in close contact with Your Creator, as together you bring The Plan to Life?
Have you put the old frame on the new picture of you?
Have you put the old frame on the picture of anyone else?
How easy is it to change when others see you in the same old way and remind you of your former self, every time you slip up? What can you do when you are reminded of your former self?
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up!
Do you not perceive it?
God is inviting you to His Masterpiece Studio!
He will be happy to show you the beautiful picture
He is painting of you!