I received an email from a young man who expressed his discouragement at not being able to find many images of the Savior with teenagers. He noted that he had seen many paintings depicting Christ with loveable little children, but rarely had he found his age group represented in such a setting. This young man closed his message with these heartfelt words: “What about us?”
Many of us have probably asked a similar question. What about me? Who doesn’t love little children with all their precious innocence and charm? But what about those of us that may not feel as lovable; those of us who may have struggled and lost our way, or who have wandered paths that have left us worn and doubting our worth?
The young man in the painting is dressed in dark clothing representing those dark clouds that at times weigh heavy on our souls and seems to cover the light that still shimmers inside us. The knapsack and bedroll remind us of the worldly burdens that we all carry around … fear, discouragement, pain, loneliness, sorrow, anger, hopelessness and on and on. The meandering path in the background symbolizes the twists and turns of life’s journey, some of which stretch us to our limit.
Thankfully, Christ’s love carries no conditions and is extended in full measure, especially to those who feel lost and forgotten.
Wherever we are in our journey, the Lord is near. He will not force himself upon us, but simply waits for us to ask for his help. Unlike most of us, who have difficulty seeing beyond the outward view of that person on the bench, Christ sees the soul, knows the heart and remains the ultimate Savior and friend.
Easter is a wonderful reminder that there are such things as miracles and happy endings. Like the ancient Easter story our own lives are often filled with times of trial, sorrow, heartache and pain. Perhaps nothing in life challenges us so universally as the experiences surrounding death and suffering.
Most of us are familiar with the fear of facing our own mortality as well as the deep loss and grief we feel when death takes from us someone we love. The heaviness of these dark hours can often feel well beyond our strength to bear.
This is when the message of Easter can help us endure, giving us increased understanding that even the darkest night will end and one day all suffering will cease and all tears will be wiped away. There is life after this life, peace after the pain, daylight after the darkness and happiness after heartache.
Easter is more than a reminder that there are happy endings, it is a symbol of new beginnings. The dawning of a promised day of eternal life filled with peace, love, and joy!
I wonder if the humble little caterpillar ever stops to remind itself that it’s already destined to become one of nature’s most exquisite creations. It is on a transformative course that will see it grow colorful wings, no longer will it be earth bound but the gift of flight will be its daily experience.
I wonder if we have any inkling of what WE were created to become?
I like to imagine Jesus posing this question to this little child and to each of us. I can imagine Him using this beautiful butterfly to illustrate the amazing answer. I can also visualize Jesus using that incredible metamorphosis to teach us something of our own “divine genetics.”
If you really knew who you were, you’d never feel inferior again. You are becoming the person you were meant to be. Believe it, then trust the process.
Years ago I used our daughter Kylie as a model for the child sitting on Christ’s lap in this painting. When the painting was finished I hung it in her bedroom near a night light thinking that it might be a comforting image for her to fall asleep with as she went to bed each night. When our youngest daughter Brooke was born she and Kylie shared that same bedroom.
One day, when Brooke was about 3 years old, she was in her bedroom with my wife Sydnie. As part of their little conversation Sydnie looked at Brooke and asked, “Brooke, do you know that Jesus loves you?” Brooke was quiet for a moment and then pointed at the painting on the wall and said, “No…Kylie!” Apparently for Kylie the painting had been a wonderful reminder that Jesus loved her, but for Brooke it meant Jesus loves Kylie best. How sad! When I heard this I felt so bad, I thought to myself, “I’ve scarred this poor little daughter of mine!” I had to change Brooke’s perception.
I ran to my studio and went straight to my computer where I pulled up an image of this painting in Photoshop. I imported a recent picture of Brooke and carefully superimposed her head over the top of Kylie’s. I then printed out a large copy of this new image of Jesus with Brooke on his lap. I then ran with it back into the house and handed it to little Brooke. At first she didn’t notice the change and her expression seemed to say, “thank you father, remind me one more time that Jesus loves Kylie best”. I got her to take a closer look. This time her eyes grew wide and a big smile burst across her face as she exclaimed, “Jesus loves me!”
Sometimes I think it would helpful if all of us had our own version of a painting like this just as a reminder that “Jesus LOVES ME!” His love is real and transforming, and above all abiding.
Perhaps no other being in history has been the subject of more artwork than has Christ. Artistic masters throughout the ages have been drawn to the challenge of portraying themes of inspiration and significance. The life of Christ is an enduring model of humility, compassion, and love.
This painting is a visual reminder of one of His most comforting messages regarding the worth of each individual soul. “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)
As I look at the intricate design of these little sparrows, experience tells me that where there is a design, there is a designer! It is a comforting thought to consider that somewhere there is a Creator who is aware of and has love for even the least of His creations. There is incredible intimacy in the vastness of this thought.
If He knows when a single sparrow falls, He surely knows your needs today.
Often there are times in life when we go through difficult periods, times when we feel as though we’re wandering in the wilderness – seeking direction, solace, and answers. And often, during those trying times, if we allow ourselves, it is as though we receive a subtle signal in the form of some small wonder.
It may be something as simple as turning on the radio and at that very moment, hearing the lyrics of just the right song, or opening the scriptures to a verse with poignant meaning, or even having a little songbird land nearby to cheer us up. These are some of the small things that have helped me along at such times, causing me to look heavenward, smile, and say a quiet, “Thank You!”
During a time in my life in which I had an important decision to make, I was trying to sort out my thoughts while hiking. As I looked out over the horizon, I noticed that the billowing clouds resembled a figure that seemed to me to point the way that I should choose. And while I know they were only clouds, like an angelic messenger sent to one needing help along the way, they were just as beneficial as all the other small wonders that I’ve experienced when I needed them most.
If we’re willing to look, Heaven is always sending messages from home.
The fear of losing control of our little world and turning it completely over to a higher, wiser power is some times more than we can bear. Fear is a hard thing to let go of. Releasing others from our expectations of them is even more terrifying, since *of course* we know what would be best for them! “If they could only see”, we exhale with a sigh.
Perhaps a higher power has often smiled at the irony.
God seems to have no fear of allowing us to take control of our life, knowing that sooner or later we will come to a place where we let go of fear, look up and grasp firmly the hand of One who truly does know best!
Let go of things you can’t control so you can focus on things you can.
I’m all too familiar with the excuse for not forgiving. I can’t forgive because I’m right and “they” are wrong! It feels like it would be much easier to let go of hard feelings if the other party’s actions were something we could condone. It just seems to kill us to let go of our need to be right.
Forgiving a humble and repentant offender is one thing but forgiving someone who doesn’t acknowledge any wrong and perhaps even continues it is quite another. We feel as if we would be letting the other party off the hook if we were to let go and truly forgive.
Well…perhaps the opposite is true. Perhaps we would let ourselves off the hook!
Freeing ourselves from the snare of bitterness, hate, fear, rage, obsession, revenge and judgment. Forgiveness is for me – for us! Forgiveness heals and releases us from the torture of our negative projections which simply bounce back and fester in our own souls. Forgiveness is freedom.
For the benefit of others as well as yourself, extend it!
April 17th – Congratulations to Nikki Densmore who was randomly selected as the winner of the Greg Olsen Giveaway for a framed 16×20 print of “Consider the Lilies”.
January 30th – (Sorry we forgot to post this to the blog!) Congratulations to Leilani Beck, Travis Longley, & Mia Dattero who were randomly selected as the winners of the Greg Olsen Giveaway for a free Combo #1 (http://www.gregolsenart.org/gallery/combo-1).