The paintings lined the walls, bidding me to draw near to them like canvased windows into my imagination. Each was an original piece of art; for sale to raise money towards helping teen mothers become independent, successful women.


The artists were varied. Some well-known, others just starting to make a name for themselves. All contributed their talents to the cause. Space was narrow, making for the gallery view to be that of a side street alley. If you were interested in a piece, you claimed it quickly, as you didn’t know if the person behind you would snatch it before you had an opportunity to squeeze your way back through the crowd.


I saw her before I could reach her. The colors and style did not match anything in my house; yet, she spoke to me. A woman wearing a hat. I love hats. I couldn’t tell if this woman was happy or sad. Whatever I was feeling, she became. She wasn’t fully painted. Much was left for me to form with my experiences of yesterday, emotions of today and dreams for the future.


I found myself feeling the body heat of the stranger in the navy suit in front of me, smelling his cologne as I pressed near to him… edging him along so I could claim the girl for my own. He understood soon enough and moved out of my way as best he could. She became mine.


There was just something about her that made me smile. Even still, I had to ask myself, “Where will I ever put her?” And then came the more immediate question, “Why would you spend this kind of money right now on something so out of your taste?”


I held my receipt in hand and walked out of the tiny gallery. As I was walking to my car, I heard footsteps fast approaching.


“Wait! Ma’am! Please, wait!”


A young man in a black suit came running up so fast that I thought he might just knock me down. Instinctively, I put the painting in front of me as a buffer.


“You got the lady in the hat?” he asked, out of breath.


“Yes.”


“I will pay you double for her,” pointing to the canvas in my hands.


I was speechless. I could really use the money, as I was already berating myself for spending funds while being on such a tight budget. Even still, I couldn’t release her….


“I am going to keep her, but thank you anyway. Why do you want her?”


He stopped for a moment. He looked at the painting still shielding my chest. “The artist,” he said, pointing again to the canvas, “she is up-and-coming. Her work will be worth much more in a few years.”


“I see.” I held the painting a little tighter.


He looked me straight in the eye. “OK, I will pay you five times whatever you paid. Final offer.”


Friends, I can tell you the painting is still being enjoyed by me today. I did not sell out. When I recall that evening, I remember how I was so terribly short on money. I only went to the event because I loved art and I loved the charity. I had no intention of purchasing anything. The man tempted me to sell out on something that I fell in love with… even though I really didn’t understand at the time why I reached so longingly and so lovingly for this particular painting.


Likewise, oftentimes when we discover Jesus, we are walking in a narrow alley of our views, tightly living within our priorities, biases, beliefs, experiences, feelings and expectations. We bump into others, either creating friction or friendships. We succeed at making lasting relationships, losing some along the way.


Ah, but then, we discover someone unlike anyone we have ever known. We are drawn to Christ… sometimes with such an unexplainable pull that we are left with nothing short of the desire to reach for him. Christ calls us out of our comfort zone and into a style of living which glorifies the artist… the creator of all. We cannot pay our debt of sin… it is way too expensive; yet, Christ’s grace makes an eternal love relationship possible.


Distractors, doubters, and even kind folks who do not have Christ as their top priority may tempt you in big or small ways to sell out — to give up Jesus so you can focus on bettering yourself in the here and now.


Luke 9:25 says, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”


Hold tight to Jesus!


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)


May we go about this week glorifying the creator of all. May we draw near to Christ, allowing his work to be displayed in our lives.


SGLY, dear readers.


(Smile, God loves you.)


Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. You can find her newly released books, “H.E.R.O. Faith” and “Bad Disciples” on Amazon. To submit feedback on SGLY, please contact news@amtrib.com. Follow Chartier on Facebook: facebook.com/tiffanychartier and Twitter: @tiffanychartier.