The Touch of the Master’s Hand

My heart is heavy this afternoon. We have just lost a colleague due to a moral failure. Our faculty is already minimized, with a dear brother on sabbatical, and a couple on medical leave. Others, already overworked will have to pick up the slack.

In our “in house family meeting” our president told a story which I will reproduce here, that highlights God’s knack for taking a bad situation, and transforming it. The story is kind of like the well known poem by Myra Brooks Welch, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.” I will link to the poem, but will not cite it.

This story was knew to me. I used Google to trace the story. It has been published in a number of different places. I’m not sure where our president, Matt Proctor, found it. Most recently, it was published in a book by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose titled Live Deeply: A Study in the Parables (David C. Cook, 2009). I’ll quote from that book (pp. 136-137):

Over a hundred years ago in a Scottish seaside inn, some fishermen were relaxing after a long day at sea. As a serving maid walked past the fishermen’s table with a pot of tea, one of the men made a sweeping gesture to describe the size of the fish he claimed to have caught. His hand hit the teapot, sending it crashing against the whitewashed wall, staining a large area. “That stain will never come out,” the innkeeper said. “The whole wall will have to be repainted.”

“Perhaps no.” All eyes turned to the stranger who had spoken. “What do you mean?” asked the innkeeper. “Let me work with the stain,” said the stranger. “If my work meets your approval, you won’t need to repaint the wall.” So he picked up a box and went to the wall. Opening the box, he withdrew pencils, brushes, and some glass jars of linseed oil and pigment. He began to sketch lines around the stain and fill it in here and there with dabs of color and swashes of shading. Soon a picture began to emerge. The random splashes of tea were transformed into the image of a magnificent stag. The man inscribed his signature on the painting, paid for his meal, and left.

“Do you know who that man was?” the innkeeper said in amazement. “E. H. Landseer!” Indeed, the famous wildlife painter. Sir Edwin Landseer had visited the village.

God sent Jesus to take the stains and disappointments from our lives–not merely to erase them, but to turn them into a thing of beauty. Will we be like the religious leaders and reject Him as the cornerstone of our faith, or will be gladly accept Him as one who can transform our lives into a masterpiece?

For the unknowing, like myself, Sir Edwin H. Landseer was a famous British wildlife artist in the 19th century.

May God turn the ashes from this situation, toward His greater glory.

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