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Summary: This series will focus on the image that God has of us and how we can spend a lifetime trying to make His image of us a reality in our life.

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Many of you are familiar with the painting “The Mona Lisa” which was painted by Leonardo da Vinci. What you may not know is that he started working on the painting in 1503 and after lingering on it for four years, left it unfinished. When he finally started working on it again in around 1516, he worked on it for another three years before completing the painting in 1519. So if you count the years that it took him to complete the painting it would be 16 years. If you count only the years that he worked on it, it would equal seven years. So let work with the seven years. As he was working on what would become one of his masterpieces, he was very meticulous. He had an image in his head that he was trying to capture on the canvas. After four years of focus, he took a break. Maybe he was just tired of working on the same painting, but before we accept that as a possibility, let me tell you a little more about him. Although he is recognized today as one of the best painters to ever live, here is what many do not know about him. Leonardo was also a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, sculptor, architect, musician, and writer. He had all of these other interests besides painting. He was so smart that he actually conceptualized a helicopter, a tank, solar power and a calculator and again he lived in the 16th century. I do not think he grew tired, I believe that he could not get what he envisioned in his mind to the canvas so he took a break until he could het it right. Imagine taking a seven year break from working on a project. Someone with his talents and gifts would not settle for just anything, it had to be perfect, it had to be right. My point with the history on his painting of the Mona Lisa is that he did not sit down and crank this out over a period of months. He put meticulous effort into this paint and he took his time because he wanted to make sure he captured on the canvas the image that he had in his head. Now consider this point. God made us in His image. We start out as a blank canvas with an image from God on it. However, we are required to finish the painting, to turn the image that we see imprinted on the canvas (which is our lives) into a reality. Sometimes, like Leonardo, we paint for years before we get the image right and sometimes there are those who never get it right. But let me share a dream that I had with you.

I went to bed the other night thinking about this sermon and what God was telling me. Early the next morning I had a dream. In the dream I was talking to some family members and looking at a picture of my father when he was younger. In the picture with my father were my mother and some other people that I did not recognize. As I stared at the photo remembering that my father was not in heaven with God, he suddenly appeared next to me. So I looked at him, he was younger and had a longer than I remember dark black hair. He smiled at me and I told him that he looked good. Because I knew he was already in heaven, I asked him if he missed us – his children. His answer surprised me. This is what he said with a bright smile on his face, “Rodney, I do not miss any of you and you know what, I do not miss the old me either.” After he said that he smiled and disappeared and I woke up crying. In the dream my father did not miss the man he was on earth – the one who sometimes doubted what God was doing in his life. He did not miss that man of the flesh who was accustomed to missing the mark, being sick and not ever really getting to that image that God had of him. He missed none of that because where he was now, he knew exactly who he was. As I laid there in bed thinking about the dream God spoke the following in my spirit. He said, “When people get here in my presence, they know who they are, they do not have an identity crisis for they see exactly who they are in Me.” After He spoke this to me I thought how we should live here on earth. We do not need to wonder who we are or what God will do for us. That is why Jesus was sent so that we could know who we are and we would not have to wonder about what God has done within us. We would not have to worry about the image that He has imprinted for us to fulfill. Leonardo was extremely meticulous in everything he did, especially as he painted the Mona Lisa. Now if he was that meticulous, think about how meticulous God was when He created you and me. Think about the fact that we are “His workmanship” or “His work of art.” He has given us everything we need to conform to the image that was His original intention. We should not wait until we get to heaven to realize our real identity and what it means to carry His image within us. When we begin to recognize this, then we can begin the process of bringing God’s image of us to the canvas of our life. So if our lives represent a canvas where God has placed an image for us to bring to life, how do we do that? How important is the image? Again, let’s go back to the basics.

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