A couple of years ago, I was given a set of two paintings by a Louisiana folk artist, the daughter of a former slave, named Clementine Hunter. At first glance, these paintings did not seem very special. They were quite rudimentary in their style. In fact, they looked a lot like something my children could have painted. They were in their original frames, which were worn out and rough with use. And to be honest, the subject matter of the paintings (scenes from plantation life) seemed offensive and embarrassing. So I accepted the gift graciously, but I placed the paintings in a back guest room in an inconspicuous spot where no one would be likely to see them.
Recently, however, I saw a television show where folk art was being valued for insurance. Some of the paintings on the show were similar to the ones I had, and they were being valued for several hundred dollars. I immediately thought of my own paintings and decided to do a little research. What I found astounded me. Other paintings by Clementine Hunter – paintings just like the ones hanging obscurely in my guest room – were recorded as selling not in the thousands, but in the TENS of thousands! “What??? Are you kidding me???” I thought to myself. I couldn’t believe my eyes. What I thought were just kitschy examples of folk art had turned out to be coveted, signed originals by a legendary folk artist. Far from being embarrassing, the subject matter of her paintings was regarded by critics as documenting history itself. And those old worn out frames, which I had thought about replacing many times, only added to the authenticity and the value of the pieces. Needless to say, the paintings were promptly removed from the back room and proudly displayed on the dining room wall. I now love these paintings and the story they represent. And I love telling the story of how I discovered their value.
The truth is, the paintings were always valuable, even when I was hiding them in my guest room. The fact that I didn’t recognize their value didn’t diminish it in any way. Just like those paintings, you too are an authentic original. Maybe there are things that you think are embarrassing or just unlovely about yourself. But God sees through those things at the masterpiece that you really are. Ephesians 2:10 says, in fact, that we ARE God’s masterpiece – His workmanship. Like a painter that creates with a brush or a sculptor that creates with clay, God created you with intentionality and purpose to reflect His glory in a unique and authentic way in this world. So don’t devalue the kind of masterpiece you are and hide yourself away. Come out into the open and let God shine His light on you and show you the value you have in Him.