June 14, 2019

Crying in art supply stores . . .

Earlier in life, I made a living painting wildlife and animal portraits, mostly horses. As a Christian, I used some of the profits to support missionaries. However, there came a day when God clearly asked me to put that behind me. He had other plans for me. At the time, this seemed easy enough, yet over the years I’ve had a strange sensation come over me when I went into an art supply store. It brings tears to my eyes, but I’ve not been able to diagnose it. Love of color, a desire to paint again? I tried painting to see if I could still do it. It turned out okay but felt no great joy. It was as if I could take it or leave it.

Yesterday we ate at a small café filled with horse photos and artwork. That strange feeling twinged a bit. Later, we stopped at a town-events street sign and it filled me. The tears were there as I read about artistic things and looked at the events involving horses at a nearby center. Later, I prayed asking God what this was about. Silence.

I asked again this morning as I was reading Psalms. The very next one I read said this:

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 131:1–3)

That psalm gives the image of a little child who is sitting on mom’s lap near her breasts but not grabbing at her to suckle. The child is weaned and content, near what he once craved but not craving any longer. God spoke to me; I’ve not yet been totally weaned!

I know that some people might tell me that this odd ‘feeling’ is a call to go back to what I was once very good at doing, but I know this is not so. Instead, it is a feeling of nostalgia and a desire for that which God asked me to leave behind. As I thought about that, I went to today’s devotional passage and read this:

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:2–5)

This is a clear call to what God is saying about passion. It is not that I cannot ever paint anything or be around horses and other animals that I used to paint, or work with color (I make art quilts and quilts for needy people), but that my passion is the Lord Jesus Christ and all that is true about Him.

I’ve also learned that whatever I do, whether telling others about Jesus and sharing the good news of His death and resurrection, or simply making a quilt, I need the power of God to do it. Just a quilt made in reliance upon Him becomes a demonstration of His love in the mind of the person who receives it. This has been made known to me many times even though I do not understand how God makes Himself known that way.

Now I realize that odd feeling is a tug to go back to a former way of doing things, a tug like that of a child that has not yet been weaned from that former way or learned to be content without it.

Lord Jesus, this was an unusual and quick answer to a prayer and to a puzzle that I’ve experienced many times in many years. The sense of knowing and trusting You is far more incredible than anything else I could know or experience. For that reason, I am filled with joy at finally understanding why I’ve cried in the aisles of art supply stores. I suspect it will never happen again.

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