Before and After


Straight from her heart to yours, this story is taken from Robyn’s new women’s devotional series, 

Seeds of Inspiration.




Did you know Michelangelo’s magnificent paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel tell the sweeping story of the Bible, from God’s creation to Christ’s ascension? 

Unfortunately, centuries of candles eventually layered the ceiling with soot and smoke until the frescos were a shadow of their original splendor. Here are the before and after pictures.


Like the Sistine Chapel, I got covered in soot too.


God created me to be a reflection of who he is, but after years of worshiping false gods– even being my own god– soot and sin was layered on me so thick I could hardly recognize any part of his original design.

The pangs of regret from decades of habitual promiscuity and drug and alcohol use confirmed I was disqualified from any chance of a future without shame and guilt.

Then someone finally told me there was a God who loved me so much that he would take my shame and guilt and regrets in exchange for a surrendered life to Jesus. It was the best news I’d ever heard!

It turns out, I’d been trying to create a masterpiece all on my own and failing miserably.


What I’ve discovered is that God had already created me to be a masterpiece.


Soot and Grime

I’m not going to lie—the restoration process from Playboy Bunny to Bible teacher took a while. It was amazing and embarrassing, painful and glorious.

Yet it was the best decision I ever made.

Did you know that YOU, too, are divinely designed by the Master himself to reflect his craftsmanship in your life!?

It’s a fact: His print on you is permanent.

Even if it gets covered in grime, his touch on you is there, hidden and waiting to be revealed or discovered.


Maybe and Perhaps

Maybe, like me, you’ve made regrettable choices.

Perhaps you got snookered into believing you could handle a taste of alcohol…

…or a couple pills to help you sleep

…or a quick look at porn just to see what it was all about

…and the soot started falling on you.

Maybe you thought you’d just strike up a chat with that ex-boyfriend…

…or the handsome man in the profile picture on Facebook, and the relationship escalated.


All of a sudden, you didn’t recognize yourself because of all the soot that blew up all over you.


Maybe you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and someone hurt you or someone close to you betrayed you…

…or your kids took a detour

. . . and their soot settled on you.


The Good News is…

Friend, no amount of soot or sin, whether self-induced or sprinkled or smeared upon you, can diminish your value to God.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been accumulating the soot or sin that has stolen your vibrant colors. I assure you that the beauty of God’s design is still on you and in you, even if you’ve become covered with sooty choices!


No matter what, God is able to restore you.


Who could have imagined the vibrant colors hidden under five hundred years of grime in the Sistine Chapel. It took fourteen years to restore the chapel’s ceiling to its glory.

Similarly, it might take time to get your vibrant purpose and colorful identity in Christ to show clearly again.

So do not be discouraged.


Just ASK!

Today, if you need to be restored, simply ask God to enter the process.

Invite Jesus in. Ask for forgiveness. Let him peel away the shame. Find his assurance of love and acceptance. Just ask him.

Lastly, consider these truths:

  • He is with you (Psalm 46:7)
  • He is trustworthy (Proverbs 3:5–6)
  • He has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • He loves you (John 3:16)
  • He forgives you (1 John 1:9)


Won’t you let the Master Restorer clean you up and show you off as his divinely designed masterpiece—just as he promised?



“If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” —2 Corinthians 5:17


God, I’ve made such awful mistakes. Most days, it really feels like I’m covered in soot. Forgive me. Clean me up. Restore me. Help me. Lead me. In Jesus’ name, amen. 


  1. Mary Ellen Morrow on April 16, 2023 at 10:58 am

    Loved you analagy… Loved seeing the Sistine Chapel in person.

    • Robyn Dykstra on April 16, 2023 at 6:19 pm

      I bet it’s beautiful!

  2. Lynne on April 17, 2023 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks, Robyn. Years ago I took students to Italy for Spring Break–during the cleaning process for the Sistine Chapel.

    This is such a good analogy of God’s work of cleansing us and restoring our ability to reflect his image.


  3. Leslie on April 18, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    Looking at the before/after pics of the Sistine Chapel, the first thing that came to my mind was “Wow!” And that’s the reaction I always get when I look at my own spiritual before and after!

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