I was in 7th grade when I first heard about Bob Ross. Mr. Hallock, my homeroom teacher, would play a Bob Ross painting tutorial during Friday study halls, as a way to encourage peacefulness and calm after the week’s busy rush. It worked. There was something so soothing, so gentle in the way Bob encouraged us to paint “happy little trees” with each bush having a friend.
The tutorials gave me a chance to take a breath, look back over the week, and prepare myself for whatever was coming next.
I’m not alone in my admiration for him. Bob Ross is famous for his teaching. But if this is the first time you’ve heard of Bob, you’re probably wondering what was so great about him - after all, a quick trip to Google can provide thousands of painting tutorials. What makes Bob Ross stand out among all the others?
For me, it was his love.
When Bob taught, he spoke softly. He smiled, he laughed. He didn’t get stressed if he made a mistake. He didn’t demand that you follow him exactly. He loved painting, and he was there to show you that you could learn to love it too. Gentleness, patience, kindness, there are a million words to describe one simple phenomenon: Love.
Love is powerful. It crosses the borders of language, culture, and politics. It is at the heart of every human desire. We are born with a hunger for love, and some spend their entire lives searching for it. And yet, love already found us.
Romans 5:8 tells us that God showed his love in this way, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This sounds simple, but what exactly does this mean? It’s important we are clear on this, after all, this is key to knowing how God loves us!
Romans 3:23-24 clears up the confusion in what I find to be one of the most straightforward passages in the entire Bible.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Because he loves us, Jesus became our sin and died on the cross.
When he rose again, he left our sin, every lawless act we ever have and ever will commit, in the grave. God forgave you a long time ago. More than 2,000 years ago, in fact.
All that’s left for you to do is to accept this forgiveness, accept this free gift of redemption.
That’s how God shows us his love.
Like the prodigal son’s father, God doesn’t wait to listen to our “I messed up” speech before He throws His robe on us, puts His signet ring on our finger, and starts throwing a party to celebrate our return.
That’s love. That’s the love God’s given us. All we do is accept it.
So how does Bob Ross fit into all this?
It’s simple. Whether or not I can paint a gorgeous tree or just make a tree-like smudge, regardless of how smooth or ruffled my clouds are, I know I have the most important element of Bob Ross’s style.
I am loved. God loves me, always has, and always will.
So like Bob Ross, I can smile, laugh, relax (and paint) knowing I have the everlasting love of the King of the Universe.
- Heidi Burke