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The incomplete apologies of self-judgment

Beginning students of pencil drawing tend to go over their lines repeatedly so that the result is not a composition of confident strokes, but a tentative hatching of incomplete apologies. Often many drawings are started but not finished, because after some tentative hatching, they are abandoned. And so it is common for student sketchbooks to be filled with pages of some lines here, some hatches there.

They are sketchbooks filled with incomplete apologies.

While battling the fear of the white paper in front of them, student sketchers also battle the voice of self-criticism inside of them.

I tell a student once pencil meets paper, do not lift your hand until the line reaches its natural expiration, no matter what, even if everyt
hing in you is saying the line is missing the mark. Once a drawing is started do not abandon it until the story is told, no matter what, even if you are doubtful about its worth at the time.

With drawings, sometimes it is more than just you that is telling the story. Each drawing is a life; the sketcher’s job is to give it a chance to grow and come into its own.

Some of my most treasure
d drawings are ones I tenaciously finished, filled with loathing about them while in process. I wanted to apologize at the time; to say I’m sorry I started you; to flip the page; to go do something else so I don’t have to confront my incompetence.

For example, I mightily doubted this drawing of Redcliff Falls at Glacier National Park as the lines were finding their way. Now I look at it, and its righteousness is in the playing out of its story, and to have been allowed to tell it.

These days I have had my usual load of public speaking: in front of students; in front of congregations; in front of interactive TV; in leading Bible studies. With each, there are lines I wish I could have redrawn. How I wish I could have redrawn some of those lines.

But the Spirit tells me to not go for the solace of incomplete apologies. Be faithful to finish the lines the Artist is drawing. It is More than just you doing the drawing.

In humility, finish the lines. Fill the sketchbook with completions … even though you have doubts in the process. Do not pronounce judgment before the time. In humility, follow through.

Do not stifle life you don’t fully understand with self judgments you don’t fully grasp.


1 Corinthians 4.1-5 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.


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