Balancing these two important qualities is imperative in painting and in life.
A painting cannot ever come to life without the making of many, many small and large decisions along the way. And it’s the same with Life.
Paintings, and our lives, are a creative progression.
Yet, there are times when the paper is too wet, and the “fuzz” tells me clearly I must wait before painting another layer.
And so, I will set the piece aside, or move to work on another section or area and come back to the wet area later, after it has had time to thoroughly dry.
Our lives are so much like a watercolor painting!
Initially, the paper is completely blank. Decisions must be carefully made in the planning stage, the drawing phase. This is foundational to a solid piece.
In painting and life, taking time for prayer, to ask our Father for wisdom to wait or act rightly is so important!
Watercolors often begin quite loose, as I wet the entire paper, or a smaller section. Timing in applying paint to a wet-in-wet is very important to get right. At a certain stage, the paper is not really dry, but is also not wet enough to paint on any further.
Layers of transparent paint take time to build up, to gain the right strength of color, just as our lives also seem layered with lessons, experiences, trials and tests, which mold and shape us.
One of the definitions of Patience is, “Knowing how important right timing is, in accomplishing right actions.” This is true in painting, too.
Another definition of Patience is, “Accepting a difficult situation from God, without giving Him a deadline to remove it.”
Waiting is really not non-action. Choosing to be patient is, in itself, an important decision!
For example, I gladly chose when I was sixteen years old not to date, but to wait on God for a husband, to seek purity and to honor God with all my relationships. I remember feeling the commendation of God upon my life that day. I didn’t know then I would still be waiting now, but I don’t regret making this valuable decision.
Waiting for very important things in life is a discipline, which can lead one to maturity, humility, and a different perspective on life.
There are plenty of times when I’ve wondered what our Father in heaven is doing in my life, in many stages and seasons of waiting.
Sometimes I have waited patiently, other times I have felt impatient. I have wondered if I should take more action, and there were temptations to go ahead of God.
But wrong timing, actions and words can ruin or upset many good things.
My team-mate and I used to teach young Kindergarten children in Oklahoma City schools this definition: “Patience is Waiting and Waiting, with No Complaining, with a Smile.”
There is Beauty in Waiting, too. In my Vegetable Gardens, watching plants unfurl their leaves at their own specific time was a joy to see!
At times in a painting, I would really like to reach the ending NOW, paint the final defining details, see the defining dark values appear, which bring in depth…but I know the piece is not ready yet. I must patiently continue to add more thin layers, slowly building up the strength of the piece.
I think our Father in heaven feels this way about His children, too. He wants to see the end for them, but He knows the wisdom of Patience, and of having us really be ready for final details.
Some have this idea in life: “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.” They are action oriented.
My mother used to tell me, when I was impatient, “Just wait on the LORD, honey.”
These are two extremes. They are each true and helpful at times, but there is a balance point between them.
Waiting can become procrastination. Non-action can become disobedience; and action could be “taking things into your own hands”, when letting God work in and through the situation would be a much better plan.
Waiting for anything you desire to occur in life can be difficult.
I have loved dwelling on many scriptural passages related to waiting, over the years.
I clearly remember a Christmas Eve homily, when I was living in New Zealand with a Catholic family. Their parish priest gave a sermon on waiting for Christ, and he read verses from many passages of the Bible, without mentioning their location. I remember thinking, “that is Isaiah, and that is from Psalms.” I wrote in my notes that night, “We are to wait patiently, prayerfully, confidently, and expectantly.”
Having Faith, really taking hold and believing that our Father sees and knows what we need and desire will help us, in waiting for anything.
We must recognize His Sovereign power can move and change what seems unchangeable, or even impossible. God often works when we take our hand off, when we “give up” and accept our situation.
Then, when His Spirit instructs us to take some action, large or small, we must instantly obey, take action, and stop waiting.
I painted this Acrylic plein air a few weeks ago. It required me to work very quickly, before the paint dried, to achieve the softness around the mist…
Misty Spring Awakening, Mt. Mansfield, Vermont, 2018, 16×20 Acrylic by Elise
Sometimes making quick decisions means the difference between success or failure. Between being able to go places or having to stay home.
Wise and timely decisions can change the very trajectory of your life.
Opportunities can be lost when you are instructed by the Spirit of God to “Go out” by faith, and you do not take action. At times you need to act without seeing all the details, or even understanding why you are told to go.
Sometimes, waiting can be very detrimental, even when decisions are difficult to make and there is uncertainty in their outcome.
Mistakes are made in everyone’s life, even when you truly desire to honor God in your waiting and decisions. Many times, for me, being silent and listening would have been a better option than speaking.
And so the balancing goes on, between these two aspects in life. Forward progress can be made in prayer and waiting, as well as in taking right actions, speaking and acting when those things are required.
Waiting and developing Patience is one of the most important principles seen in the Scriptures.
Abraham waited twenty-five years for his promised son, Issac. Joseph waited twelve years to be released from prison. Moses waited for his people’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Martha and Mary waited for Christ to come raise their dead brother, Lazarus. Elisabeth waited for her husband to regain his vocal ability, and for a child in her old age. Christ waits for His Bride, the Church.
Waiting can be a beautiful time of trust and acceptance. But it can as easily be a pain-filled time of uncertainty when an outcome is largely unknown.
For instance, people today wait for loved ones to get well from serious illness, to return home from the hospital. Or, they wait for loved ones who are incarcerated to be released. Or, for military family to return safely home from overseas. Parents wait for children to come to their senses, or to take more responsibility for their actions. Children wait for parents to see new opportunities more positively. People wait to hear about school, job and grant applications…and the list goes on.
And while we wait on and for many things, there is always action to take, to be ready for what we are waiting for.
On Being Patient
These are some of my favorite verses on waiting and Patience:
Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. ~ Psalm 37:7
Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him comes my salvation…My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him….Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. ~ Psalm 62:1, 5, & 8
I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the LORD more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. ~ Psalm 130:5-6
Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee. ~ Proverbs 20:22
And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. ~ Isaiah 30:18
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. ~ Lamentations 3:24-26
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. ~ Habakkuk 2:3
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. ~ Romans 8:24-25
Charity suffereth long, and is kind. ~ I Corinthians 13:4a
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the LORD. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. ~ James 5:8
On Taking Action
I remember sitting in an old wooden church pew, and asking my dad a serious question. I was probably nine or ten years old at this time: “Dad,” I said, “when I grow up, there are going to be a lot of decisions to make, how am I going to know how to make the right ones?”
He immediately replied by giving me Proverbs 3:5-7:
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy paths.
To “acknowledge” means to know someone intimately. I treasure this good counsel.
Other passages which command us to take action, to be Decisive, are these:
In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. ~ Proverbs 14:23 And this verse was oft-repeated to myself, when I didn’t feel like sitting and disciplining myself to paint.
Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. ~ Proverbs 16:3
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? ~ Proverbs 24:11-12
Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9
Of course, these verses don’t apply as much to painting as they do justice and mercy, yet artists must act on more than just creating beauty. There is an entire realm of decisions to make on how time is invested in this life.
Readers, do you tend to fall on the more cautious side, and wait a lot in life?
If so, may the Holy Spirit fill that time with insight, hope and light.
Or, are you one who tends to take action and be a do-er?
What or Who gives you the confidence and boldness to take right actions and/or speak out?
Do you stand on the Rock of Christ, and feel His Peace and Presence in all your decision-making, even when there is Great Opposition to your decisions?
May we each learn to patiently and wisely wait, and also to make wise decisions, so that our lives may bring our Father honor, glory and praise.
With a sincere desire to be wisely patient and obediently decisive,
I remain, your painting and praying friend,
LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us [Or, for us]. ~ Isaiah 26:12