The blank white space says it all. There is a glaring empty delineation in the center of Adolph Menzel’s famous painting, Frederick the Great’s Address to His Generals Before the Battle of Leuthen, and it is right where the main character was meant to be. Menzel intended to depict Frederick’s rousing oration to his generals given on the eve of the Battle of Leuthen in 1757, but he never finished it. The wintry landscape of the battlefield and the gaudy uniforms worn by the generals are portrayed in photorealistic detail, but there is a flagrant void where Frederick the Great should be! Menzel burned all of his time beautifying the things that mattered the least while leaving out the central character.
And while Menzel’s infamous work may be an imperfect portrait, it is sometimes a perfect portrait of our lives. More often than not, we tend to the minor matters of life and embellish the things that do not matter eternally. We scrupulously paint the canvas of our careers, personal ambitions, and worldly achievements while omitting the central figure, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is very easy to give ourselves fully to everything else except the One who gave Himself up for us (Eph. 5:2). Many times, there is a white space in our lives where Jesus should be.
The white space glares when we tirelessly serve the greedy god of Mammon instead of selflessly serving the Master, Jesus (Matt. 6:24; cf. Col. 3:23-24). The white space scowls when we offer the Lord the leftovers of our earnings after having spent it all on ourselves (Prov. 3:9-10; Mal. 3:8). The white space gradually widens when we work painstakingly toward the achievement of our own personal goals, rather than pursuing the goal of testifying to Jesus and finishing our course (Acts 20:24). The white space rears its ugly head when we fail to redeem the time God has given us because our schedules are jammed with frivolous matters (Eph. 5:16). The only way to prevent a white space from emerging is to paint Jesus in the “foreground” of our lives, and tend to the “background” aspects after putting Him first in everything.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” the Lord commands in the Decalogue (Ex. 20:3). Similarly, Jesus calls us to seek Him and His kingdom first (Matt. 6:33). Does not the one and only God deserve to be our one and only God (Isa. 45:5)? Does not the First and the Last Himself deserve to be the first in our lives and not last (Rev. 1:17)? Does not the exalted Lord of all deserve to be the Lord of all that we are and all that we do (Eph. 1:20-23)?
When we are done painting the portrait of our lives, will there be a blank space where Jesus belongs?
“All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.”— Judson W. Van De Venter, I Surrender All.
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).
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