Steel Sharpens Steel

This morning I received an email saying, “The living and true God makes every one and every thing exactly what they and it are at any given moment, and He is the way to navigate every situation at all times.”

It is in harmony with the several other quotes I keep by my kitchen sink, reminding us that everything is from the wisdom and love of God.

“Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.” – C. Spurgeon

G. Edwards wrote, “Again, I am awed by the number of Christians who find it utterly impossible to take this experience as from the hand of God… something that He meted out to them because He loved them, that this experience had divine purpose.”

God’s word: ” …for from Him, through Him and to Him are all things.”

Knowing these things doesn’t make suffering any easier… nor does it make the sword pleasant. Suffering is by its nature very unpleasant, yes? Yet, it IS meted out by the hand of God to those He loves… whom He loves…. and even more, we forget what we know in the midst of suffering, until He gives grace… until we all are surrendered to His will… until He transforms us into the image of His Son….

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Sufferings – 16″x 12″ – Oil

Husbands and wives, workers and friends, things in the world… He uses all things to produce a suffering which produces refinement, sharpening, dependence. It is humbling to be the spur or channel through which another suffers. Every time. Still, I seem to “do better” at causing pain than receiving pain. God have mercy. I would that I did not cause another pain, yet God gives this and may use this to produce “a weight of glory.”

The Spirit of Jesus living through us is “the way to navigate every situation.” We die to our self not by our own will.

 

Faraway, Yet Near

Near the entrance to the amazing Chiricahua National Monument, is the original homestead of the Riggs family, called “Faraway Ranch”. The family settled there and then founded “The Wonderland of Rocks”, later becoming  “The Chiricahua National Monument”.

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Entrance to Faraway Ranch – 24″x 20″ – Oil – (Photo from older photograph, maybe early 2000. I do not remember where this original painting is now – nor the title ).

It is a beautiful walk into the ranch area, you feel yourself coming home in a way… it warms you as you come closer to pass by the old buildings past the fence, on the trail that leads to the main house.

There was something really odd while I was there one day, walking back from the house toward the old buildings. I do not know what the buildings were… work sheds, out-buildings maybe. But I thought for sure there were chickens there at one time.

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Wooden Fence at Faraway – about 20″x 14″ – Watercolor

I loved the pathway that passed this fence, and the light through the trees… the calm light gracing everything. It was peaceful. Yet, for just a moment I thought a woman walked by me with a basket of eggs in her hand, walking on this pathway. But there was no one there.

Everywhere there was evidence of lives lived, hearts given, times gone by.

Maybe that’s why these paintings came to mind this new year. Yesterday I read of someone else’s experience of his life lived, of the memories now being longer than the time remaining, of the “owning” of our own imminent bodily death. But then, “And then I lift my head and look about me at the river and the valley, the great, unearned beauty of this place, and I feel the memoryless joy of a man just risen from the grave..”

The memoryless joy of a man just risen from the grave…. a new creation, in resurrection life. Gone is the old and the new is here. Jesus said He is making all things new. All things. Not only now, in this life and the ages to come for those who believe, but all things.

Our time on this earth may be a shadow, or passing wind, but in Him is Life… His Life never ends. His Being IS, WILL BE, WAS…. of His kingdom there is no end.

So here, I look about me at…the great, unearned beauty of this place, and feel joy. I am grateful for this life/time that remains on earth, until we go home.

It really is a gift.

 

Wanting to Soar

In my 20’s, there was a constant aching for more – a longing to be free – to fly away. Always.

At the time I painted “Wanting to Soar”, I lived in a hotel designed to house recovering alcoholics. I was not one of the suffering ones, but my friend who managed it, was a Veteran of WWII, one of the American soldiers who helped in the liberating of a concentration camp. He was a recovering alcoholic, remembering the sights and smells and sounds… never forgetting. He was also an artist. He painted beautiful, peaceful pieces. He also empathized with me, a young woman making a living selling paintings and painting signs, designing a logo now and then.

So, I rented a room here, it was inexpensive and centered downtown across from a park, surrounded by the businesses I dealt with. I was making it as an artist, but longed for something, I didn’t know what. I was not a constant person in those days.

This painting was painted sometime in 1981-92. I had poor photographic records of art then, this has more neutraled blues in it.

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Longing to Soar – 18″x 24″ – Oil

A friend recently thought I should rename this to Isaiah 40:31:

“Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”

Indeed! He knew me before I knew Him, and He enables us to fly.

Out a Side of the Boat

The morning after an election brought me to think about the quiet, peaceful place in the middle of a hurricane; and then to Jesus walking on the water. The disciples were afraid of Him for a bit, seeing Him as a phantom or ghost. It was dark, and the storm was raging, their boat was battered by the waves. I remembered, when my husband was talking, that Jesus comes sometimes in unrecognizable form in the darkness and the storms… sometimes it is the storms that cause us to need and see Him. Even the storms are controlled by Him, He is Lord.

Hence, I decided to share this painting, painted earlier this year.

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Which Side of the Boat – 48″x 48″ – ©2018 All Rights Reserved

One morning I looked out the window at the sunrise, and all of time stretched out in the sun rays into an ocean, where Peter was stepping out of the boat, pressing toward the mark,  to go to Jesus. The time of Jesus on the water and His returning are separated by the shadow of the cross – nearly imperceptible now – painted small as a narrow gate, but huge and substantial in God’s plan. Peter walked on water, just as all believers do in belief until the return of our King.

Where Peter was with Jesus physically on this earth, we, on this side of His crucifixion and resurrection, chosen and called, walk to Him, look to Him, hope in Him…. being transformed through His working, as we are to be like Him, see Him as He is and know Him as fully as we are known by Him.

The holy ones clothing becomes the white linen, becoming the army of Christ coming with Him to Armageddon, ruling with Jesus in the heavens during the 1000 year kingdom promised to the true Jews.

Jesus is depicted coming on a cloud, on a standing horse rather than charging, until all the people that are called and chosen “get out of the boat” – resurrected in unending indestructible Life. Death is under His feet.

This scene depicts a passing of “time” as well as a “moment”…

Now the people who are getting out of the boat not facing Jesus, are swallowed up in death’s waters, then burning in fire. I painted them to actually embody the fire.

The birds in the painting: Doves represent the Holy Spirit, Seagulls represent the earthly and the vultures in the death waters I omitted for now.

The angels are seen, pressing against the arc of the earth’s atmosphere watching, waiting, witnessing, pressing – not yet released to deal out vengeance on those against Christ.

This painting came a stroke at a time. I was led through it, piece by piece. Being unsure of where I was headed with it, I used a very small brush most of the time until it presented itself to me.