Joni and Friends Blog

My Father, the Master Craftsman

“Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.”

Psalm 73:23-24 (NLT)

My daddy was a master craftsman and a huge force for good in my life. As a child I would often watch him at work, in awe of his skill at just about everything he put his mind to.

In the evenings, after dinner, Daddy would retire to his desk, pull out his big wooden paint box from underneath, dampen his brushes with gel, and paint the most stunning portraits and landscapes. Often when my dad painted, I would pull out my crayons and coloring book and, on the floor next to him, I would color Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and their horses. Every once in a while, Daddy would glance down at my picture and say, “Nice job,” but usually it was all quiet… sometimes for hours.

Other times Daddy would invite me to sit up on his lap where he would enfold his big hand over mine, and together we would swirl the colors across his canvas, painting mountains, horses, and scenes from the Old West. I felt like I was the one creating these huge renderings, but now of course, I look back and understand it was Daddy’s hand all along guiding mine.

Many decades later, after Ken and I had been married several years, my 83-year-old father went camping with us in the Sierras. When he pulled out his whittling knife, I stopped to watch what he was doing, fascinated. He still had amazing skill with his arthritic hands. He was handling an old piece of driftwood, meticulously cutting away everything that was dead, dirty, and didn’t belong. The longer he worked, the more the beautiful wood gleamed.

At one point, as my father worked, Ken snapped a photo, and when I saw it later, I just knew it would make a great pastel-pencil rendering. Back at my art easel, as I drew my daddy’s hand around his knife, I kept thinking of how our Heavenly Father works in our lives with the knife of His Word.

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

Hebrews 4:12

He cuts away everything in us that’s dead, dirty, and doesn’t belong, fashioning the beautiful creation, Christ in us, the hope of glory.

“For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.”

Colossians 1:27

As I drew and meditated on that truth, I realized I should not draw the tip of the knife where it touched the wood. How could I render something so miraculous as the “old creation” being turned into the new? So in the end, I decided to leave that part undefined.

At first, it appears like a glint of sunlight on the knife… but I choose to think it shows the transforming-point where “God’s knife” meets “our lives.”

As the fourth of four daughters, my parents named me after my daddy, John King Eareckson. I didn’t always appreciate being known as “Little Joni,” but now I’m proud that I share his name. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t thank the Lord that I had such an awesome dad…

And never does a day go by that I don’t thank the Lord for the Master Craftsman at work in my life. Like Little Joni sitting on Big Johnny’s knee while he swirls the paintbrush in my hand, Psalm 73 says, “you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny” (v. 23-24).

What’s more, we don’t just participate in bringing about a marvelous work of art, God creates a masterpiece in us, too.

The Master Craftsman cuts away the dead and dirty debris in my life—in your life—so that more of Christ’s beauty shines through. It’s true we may never quite understand how the cutting that God is doing in our life is helping to shape that miraculous change, but I’ve seen enough of the wonders God has accomplished with his divine skill to trust that this work, too, will fill me with awe when it is complete.

For all the many fathers who will read this today, may you see the Master Craftsman at work in your life, creating marvelous art in and through you. For there’s nothing that could please a family more than seeing Christ in the life of their dad! Happy Father’s Day to each one of you!

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