Jesus led me down a series of hallways, making small talk along the way, until we finally reach the room that Jesus had prepared specially for me. He opened the door, led me in and then bid me good night.
The door was closed for less than a second before it swung open again. Jesus peaked in and said with a smile and that wink, “If you need anything, just ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find it. My servants are always available just down the hall. Just knock and the door will be opened.”
I chuckled and smiled. He knew full well how much of a kick I got out of him quoting scripture. He closed the door and I was alone.
I turned to see the room Jesus had prepared for me and what I saw took my breath away. The room itself was nothing too spectacular — just think of a typical mid-sized bedroom at a north country lodge by Lake Superior. What took my breath away was what adorned the room.
The walls were covered with beautifully framed paintings. Yet, these were not merely prints of well known classics by Van Gogh, Davinci or Michelangelo. Nor were they the beloved outdoor prints by Terry Redlin that are often found in lodge resorts in northern Minnesota. I was gazing at original works painted by the Holy Spirit himself — clearly marked by his seal pressed firmly upon the bottom right corner of each. Each masterpiece was a scene from my life, a significant moment in my spiritual journey!
The first scene was inside of St. John’s Lutheran Church. My young parents and godparents are standing around the baptistry in those hideous late 1970s clothes — my dad’s yellow leisure suit the worst. The scene is looking down from above with the pastor pouring water over my infant head and eyes gazing up toward a soft glow hovering above.
The next scene resembled Van Gogh’s Starry Night a bit. It was a bird’s eye view of my junior high self perched on the garage roof alone, staring up into the starry heavens in awesome wonder. That was one of my first memorable moments where I really felt the presence of God in a profound way. It was a “Jacob’s Ladder” moment (cf. Genesis 28) where Heaven kissed Earth, and I beheld the truth of the Psalmist:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge” (Psalm 1 9).
The next painting featured a transfixed crowd of people sitting in the bleachers of a packed gymnasium all focused on one thing. No, it wasn’t a basketball game — though, ironically, at that time in my life I would have loved nothing more than to have a crowded gym watching me shoot the lights out. Instead, this painting’s focal point was a preacher in his mid 40s sporting a strange curly mullet hairdo clinging to a piece of the 1980s standing behind a clear glass podium. That was the place where the Word of God began to come alive in my soul through the preaching of David Johnson at Church of the Open Door in the late 1990s. Seeds of faith were planted in that gym, in those sermons, that came to full flower in college and seminary, and are still blooming today.
I continued to take in my surroundings. Walking around the room, I saw a painting of a scene from a mission trip, a Bible study some of us friends organized in high school, and a picturesque view of my special prayer spot under the big oak tree by Lake Valentine on Bethel’s campus.
My favorite painting was a simple yet profound scene in the old Bethel College Dining Center. The typical laughter and noise from chatty college kids has all died away and the room is now abandoned. In the middle of the room sits a sophomore version of myself, all alone with my dinner tray pushed aside, and the new Bible my friends Peter and Joe gave me opened up on the table before me. The dining room is dark now except for a light shining down over my table. The focus of the painting is clearly on the spiritual illumination that is taking place as I read the Book of Acts for the first time. My entire life’s direction is about to be changed by this solitary moment in God’s Word. Yet, in the shadows toward the outside of the painting stands another figure that is easy to miss but certainly there. It’s hard to make out his appearance: Is it the last dining center employee scrubbing down the tables? Or is it my Savior Jesus waiting around to usher me out into the night and into a new life set aflame by my encounter with God’s Word?
The final painting was a disarmingly up close portrait of me. Nobody enjoys a close up shot of themselves — even if it is by the hand of God himself! As my insecurities began to rise up and I was tempted to critique the mole on my temple or roll my eyes at my receding hairline, I noticed an equally prominent golden plaque on the bottom of the frame with an engraved description that said:
JEREMY BERG, GOD’S MASTERPIECE
“You are God’s masterpiece. He has created you anew in Christ Jesus, so you can do the good things he planned for you long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you…” (John 14)
1. When was the last time you stopped and looked back on the key moments in your life? Are you overdue for a weekend retreat to take inventory of your spiritual mountain peaks?
2. If this was your specially prepared room, what scenes would be displayed on the wall? Try to name 3-5. Whether these are painful or joyful experiences, give God thanks for the ways they have shaped you.
3. What do you think about the idea that you — yes YOU! — are God’s masterpiece handcrafted by Creator Himself? Does that help abate your insecurities? :)
PRAYER: God, as I reflect on the scenes of my past life — both the good and the bad — I thank you for all the known and unknown ways you have been standing by with brush in hand to capture, redeem and beautify the moments. The fact that I am the object of your affection and the masterpiece you are working on blows my mind and stirs me to worship! Amen.