First of all, it is the ARTIST that makes the artwork a masterpiece; not the canvas, not the brush, and not the paint, pencil, or chalk. Have you ever tried to cut hair while outside in the blowing wind? How about cutting a straight line while someone is moving the paper all around? What about painting or coloring while driving on a bumpy road? Imagine, with me, that WE are a piece of canvas or paper and God is the artist. He picks up the brush…and begins to dip it in the paint. As he goes across to spread the paint on us as the canvas…we move. Let’s imagine the brush and paint are events and people in our lives. God brings these things into our lives to build masterpieces out of us. He actually has a picture in His mind! Remember…He is the MASTER artist! Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
It is so important that we realize the need to HOLD STILL. I really believe that comes from trust. And when we trust in God, we can hold still. Imagine how frustrating it is to God when he goes to paint on our canvas and we move. Then He has to re-apply paint over and over again; working around us. Often I hear people say, “God told me…” or “God says…” Standing on the outside, I often see people putting words in God’s mouth when the person wanted to “do” whatever it is… and left God out of it. Thus, doing exactly what THEY wanted to do. I can identify with this when I sought after the things that I thought would make me look “perfect”. It takes diligence and desire to hold still. It takes discipline to listen in Him. It takes a habit of taking time with God daily in prayer and in His Word to find out His ways and then applying them. It takes respect to know that God alone is the Master Artist…He does not need our help. “This God—His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 18:30.
An example in scripture of a man who stood still was Daniel. Most everyone has heard the story about Daniel and the lion’s den; but let’s look at what happened before he went to those “lion’s sleep over”!
Read with me Daniel 6 starting at verse 1:
Darius (the king of Persia who just destroyed the seemingly invincible King Belshazzar) divided the kingdom into 120 provinces, each under a governor. The governors were accountable to three presidents (Daniel was one of them) so the king could administer the kingdom efficiently. Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other presidents and governors, for he had great ability, and the king began to think of placing him over the entire empire as his administrative officer. This made the other presidents and governors very jealous, and they began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs so that they could complain to the king about him. But they couldn’t find anything to criticize! He was faithful and honest and made no mistakes. So they concluded, “Our only chance is his religion!” They decided to go to the king and say, “King Darius, live forever! We presidents, governors, counselors, and deputies have unanimously decided that you should make a law, irrevocable under any circumstance, that for the next thirty days anyone who asks a favor of God or man—except from you, Your Majesty—shall be thrown to the lions. Your Majesty, we request your signature on this law; sign it so that it cannot be canceled or changed; it will be a ‘law of the Medes and Persians’ that cannot be revoked.” So King Darius signed the law. But though Daniel knew about it, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs bedroom, with its windows open toward Jerusalem, and prayed three times a day, just as he always had, giving thanks to his God.
This was Daniel’s habit. He stood still. Now me…I would be up all night doing my circle thinking…trying to think of the perfect plan on how to handle this and to figure out how I could work things out to not have to go into that lion’s den, RIGHT?! But nope, Daniel respected God. He was obedient. He knew God was the Master Artist…and that God had a plan. Daniel would allow God to paint; even though it was a horrifically scary time.
An example of a man who did NOT hold still was King Nebuchadnezzar. Turn back a few chapters to Daniel 4. In chapter 1, Daniel and his 3 friends stand strong in their convictions and obeyed God by not eating the King’s food. Because they stood still, God gave them wisdom beyond all the other wise men in the land. King Nebuchadnezzar honored these godly men because of that. In chapter 2, the king had a dream and only Daniel could interpret it. But Daniel was sure to let Nebuchadnezzar know that it was only because of the 1 true God. In the end, the king admitted that Daniel’s God was best of all of his god’s. Now, chapter 3 is the famous story of the fiery furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar watched closely, Meshach and Abednego as they were in the furnace. He witnessed their God and contrasted that with his gods. They didn’t come rescue him in the same way. Nebuchadnezzar witnessed the Lord standing by these men who trusted Him. So King Nebuchadnezzar made a law that no one could speak against the God of Israel. We can see the king beginning to have an understanding of God…but he still has not chosen to allow God to be his Master Artist. So, now we are up to chapter 4. In verses 4-5, we see that there is another dream. Again, no one could help interpret the dream. So, who comes to help him again? Daniel. The king tells Daniel the dream and as Daniel listen, he becomes stunned and afraid. But the king reassures him and pleads with him to share with him what the dream means. Let’s hop down to verse 19. I will read from the Living Bible translation: Daniel replied: “Oh, that the events foreshadowed in this dream would happen to your enemies, my lord, and not to you! For the tree you saw growing so tall, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see, with its fresh green leaves, loaded with fruit for all to eat, the wild animals living in its shade, with its branches full of birds— that tree, Your Majesty, is you. For you have grown strong and great; your greatness reaches up to heaven, and your rule to the ends of the earth. “Then you saw God’s angel coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump and the roots in the earth surrounded by tender grass, banded with a chain of iron and brass. Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. For seven years let him eat grass with the animals of the field.’
“Your Majesty, the Most High God has decreed—and it will surely happen-that your people will chase you from your palace, and you will live in the fields like an animal, eating grass like a cow, your back wet with dew from heaven. For SEVEN years this will be your life, until you learn that the Most High God dominates the kingdoms of men and gives power to anyone he chooses. But the stump and the roots were left in the ground! This means that you will get your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules. “O King Nebuchadnezzar, listen to me—stop sinning; do what you know is right; be merciful to the poor. Perhaps even yet God will spare you.”
And if you continue to read the rest of the chapter, you will see that this is exactly what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. But look at verse 34 “At the end of seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High God and honored him who lives forever, whose rule is everlasting, his kingdom evermore. All the people of the earth are nothing when compared to him; he does whatever he thinks best among the angels of heaven, as well as here on earth. No one can stop him or challenge him, saying, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’ When my mind returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My counselors and officers came back to me, and I was reestablished as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before.”
“Now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of Heaven, the Judge of all, whose every act is right and good; for he is able to take those who walk proudly and push them into the dust!” We think that the timeline from Chapter 1 to Chpt. 4 is about 43 years; so in other words…it took around 40 years and turning into a beast for King Nebuchadnezzar to humble himself and stand still…and to allow God to be his Master Artist.