Life is a sculpture not a painting

Steve shares how personal life tragedies were used for good

Steve Leeder
Steve Leeder (pictured with wife Shan) says his “rough edges” are being chiselled away

A miracle restoration to his parents' marriage convinced Steve Leeder that there is a light that can overcome darkness in anyone's life.

"My parents were in a party lifestyle of drugs and alcohol and sometimes they were so violent it was frankly terrifying," Steve recalls from his childhood.

After his parents separated they decided to seek help from a Christian helpline.

"My father, Richard, was an atheist then, and had come to the end of himself," Steve recalls.

The helpline led to a visit from two young Christian pastors, who explained, "It is not enough to merely believe in the existence of God."

"God wants to have a personal relationship with us," they added, "And this happens by faith in Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. We know God when we invite Jesus to take control of our lives."

As Steve's father walked in Perth's Kings Park and thought about the demise of his marriage, Steve says, "He cried out to God, asking that if He was real then could He reveal Himself."

After this prayer was answered Steve saw instant changes when his parents let Jesus take over their lives and received counselling from the pastors.

"My parents reconciled and became new people! They were instantly kinder and much more loving towards each other. They still had issues, but I saw a radical change in both of them."

When Steve developed pneumonia he was amazed that God miraculously healed him through the prayers of the two pastors. After that, he says it was a "straight-forward" decision to trust in Jesus for himself.

For a while Steve believed an "overcoming" life that Jesus spoke about meant physical success, but it turned out that Jesus' promise was instead about inward change to being more like Jesus.

He did not anticipate that a decade of tragedy would follow his decision to become a Christian.

The asthma-related death of a childhood friend resulted in his sudden battle with depression and the end of a two year relationship.

Steve's dream career then vanished. His rock band was nearing an EMI USA record deal when the band suddenly folded.

Another childhood friend was taken by cancer, two uncles committed suicide in less than two years, and his wife's two miscarriages and tragic infidelity led to a painful divorce.

All these tragedies took him to breaking point, and stripped off his pretend "brave face".

During a country getaway, he recalls, "I asked God why He had allowed these tragedies in my life, and I received a powerful revelation about God and how He sees me in union with Jesus Christ."

For years Steve thought his purpose was to make "a beautiful painting for God" but now God was revealing the truth.

"I had felt that if I fixed up my mistakes in the 'painting of my life' I could find my way back to God. But my painting was such a mess I thought I couldn't find God anywhere. God then revealed that 'your life is not a painting, it is a sculpture.'

"God said that I am His 'work of art'. He purposely chose every single hardship to 'chisel away' all the rough edges in me, like a sculptor working on a rock-hewn masterpiece."

Now God did not feel far away from Steve.

"I could see that God had been involved in every struggle, intentionally leading me into these hardships, to make me more into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ."

During 14 months of healing Steve says God revealed many promises to him, one of which was an unknown woman who would show him more of God's grace and peace.

In January 2013, a friend introduced Steve to Shan and they were married two years later.

Rather than being exempt from hardships by following Jesus, Steve explains that "I have come to know God through the hardships in my life."

"Through these trials I have learnt that He is an eternally faithful God. I have also learnt that Jesus was right when He said that He alone is 'The Way, The Truth and The Life' (John 14, verse 6).

"I know what the Bible means when it says that 'God works all things together for good' (Romans 8: 28). God works, not just the nice things in life, but also the messy and painful stuff too.

"I have gone from thinking I was mostly a pretty good guy, to seeing myself in truth, and honestly being able to echo (the apostle) Paul, who saw himself at the end of his life as the chief of all sinners.

"The more I come to know Christ, the more *I come to know how desperately I need Him, *and without His love, His sacrifice for my sins, and His grace (undeserved love), I would be totally sunk."

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