Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:27
I am currently teaching a course at Concordia University, Ann Arbor called “The Art of Teaching.” It is a curriculum and instruction class designed for elementary teachers, but none of the students are studying to be traditional elementary educators. My class consists entirely of music and art students seeking a K-12 endorsement. This is good for me because it allows me to include elements of secondary education – content in which I am more experienced. But this is also bad for me because I am extremely limited in my music and art skills, which is a polite way of saying I have no skills.
Undeterred, I have pressed on with the course, sharing insights into classroom management and instructional design, trying my best to make it applicable to students without insulting their intelligence. In using music and art examples, I find myself straining to remember what little I learned in my own art and music classes. I don’t know why, but whenever I’m searching for an artistic genre, pointillism comes to mind. You’re probably familiar with pointillism. Merriam-Webster defines it as: “The theory or practice in art of applying small strokes or dots of color to a surface so that from a distance they blend together.” I have always appreciated the way artists can make something beautiful out of a collection of individual pieces that in and of themselves are rather simple. To illustrate this, take a look at these images of Georges Seurat’s La Parade.
The first image shows a series of colorful, random dots. Polite art critics might call this interesting. Blunt critics would call it ugly. Ironic critics would call it pointless (I couldn’t help it). There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. It’s not until you back up and see the picture as a whole that you see the outline of the face and the rest of the image. Stepping back and seeing the painting as a whole, provides clarity, purpose and appreciation of the beauty of the painting.
If you think about it, our lives can be very similar to the painting. Imagine our lives are the dots from the first picture. From time to time we find ourselves searching for the meaning of our lives. Why am I doing this? Where am I heading? Is this it? Am I really making a difference? It’s easy to look at all of the individual pieces of our lives: jobs, relationships, families, hobbies, etc… and think that there really isn’t much happening. The world will tell you that you are the master of your own destiny and that you will make of your life whatever you want. There may be some truth to that, but even the most driven and energetic people can only take it so far, rearranging the dots but not making anything close to the work of art found when all of the points are brought together.
If our lives are the dots, then God is the artist who has masterfully arranged us into the portrait of His kingdom. Just as each individual dot doesn’t get to see the fullness of what it has created, we too will never see the full impact we are making in the world. How many thousands of lives will be impacted by those students sitting in my class this semester? Children not yet born will be influenced and inspired by future teachers who learning their craft in my classroom this semester. When I look at it in those terms, I can see that my impact will be great but I also see that it is God who makes this possible.
In spite of hard times, pressures, and pain we must always remember the promises that God has made to us. As members of the body of Christ, we play an integral role in what God has designed for His creation. So as we come to those times in our lives where we feel ineffective or when we face a new opportunity, let us hold fast to the knowledge that God is directing our lives, leading us to the place He intends so that we will do the most good in furthering his plan.