So, it’s a new year, and I’ve been busy doing all of the new year stuff. Like I do every year, I spent the first weekend of 2010 cleaning, putting away Christmas decorations, organizing files. Today, I got my haircut and joined a gym. And so far this year, I’ve read my Bible daily, watched almost no television, and eaten more vegetables than I care to mention.

I’m resolved.

At the same time, I couldn’t help but melt a little when I read Jennifer’s question a couple days back, a question posed to her last year about this time. “What are the beautiful things you did that you never resolved to?”

It was the question in the back of my mind as I set about to paint a little last night . . . another goal for the new year, another reason to keep the TV off. I pulled out the paints, a jar for water, the well-worn brushes. But rather than start with a fresh canvas, I gravitated to one that I already had started several months back.

It was just a small canvas, 8×11. And so far, I had painted just a couple of flowers. I remember the vision I had when I first started the picture. It was going to be a garden full of every color. But now, I realized the composition was all wrong. The flower that was supposed to be the anchor, the focal point, was too centered, too small, too straight. I was borrowing the general idea from someone else’s photograph. It wasn’t even my idea; it didn’t mean anything. The whole thing was too rigid, too predictable, too boring.

I just about gave up and put the paints away for the night until a very unpredictable thought entered my mind. What if I make something new out of this? What if I let the colors find their own place on the canvas, what if I loosen up, let the composition become what it wants rather than what I want? What if I make art that isn’t pretty, that means something I don’t understand?

And so out of the tubes I squirted colors I wasn’t sure about, and I picked up the largest brush I own, and I painted how I felt instead of what I was thinking. I didn’t erase what I had started, but I changed it. I made something new, something I would never have planned. I did something beautiful that I had never resolved to.

I am hoping this can happen again and again this year. That when I am about to give up on the things I plan and resolve, something unexpected will happen in me, to me, and out will emerge something beautiful.

That’s my prayer for us all:

Jesus, we make these big plans because we see there’s a lot left in us that needs to change. But at some point, we remember that it was never ours to change in the first place. In those moments, help us see that You are at the center of all that is beautiful in us. Thank you that you have promised to finish what you have started.