Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Paintings and writings from "Lessons from Matthew 6"

Lessons from Matthew 6

"...Consider the lilies of the field how they grow... yet not even Solomon in all his
glory was dressed as one of these. Your Heavenly Father already knows
all your needs, and he will give you all you need day by day if you live for him,
making his kingdom your priority."

A personal expression of faith:
A journey of questions and answers - A visual response.
(paintings ©Helen Read, with artist's notes)

Almost 10 years ago, I found myself in an unexpected place in life - devastating
life changes...
And deep questions haunted my heart:
Questions about God's love, questions about fear and God's protection and provision,
questions about the next steps.

His answers have been spoken through his Word and the beautiful tableau of his
creation. Through the language of beauty he has shown me his sustaining hand
and whispered quiet assurance of his love, strength and faithfulness.
The lovely work of his hand, as seen in creation, is the outpouring of his heart!

I love the pure abundance of flowers!
To me they are a statement of God's love. He gave his attention to the deepest, hidden parts while creating a profusion of colors, shapes, smells and sizes that capture our attention. Not only has he done it for his own delight, but as a gifting to us!
He is a God of Exquisite Detail!
Not just in the beauty of the world around us, but as he deals with our hearts and lives.

His Love:
Passages that spoke to my heart very powerfully as I put forth my questions, even my doubts, about his love come from Isaiah.

"Can a mother forget her young children? Can she feel no love for the child she has
borne? Even if that were possible, I will not forget you! See! I have written your name on
my hand."
(from Isaiah 49)

"For I have chosen you, and I will not throw you away!" (from Isaiah 41)

The God of Great Gifts has prepared beauty for the simple sake of beauty!
It bespeaks his very character. Often, he tucks His gifts into common things.... Gifts of love that are waiting to be discovered in passing moments, such as the tiny explosion of light as it hits a
delicate dew drop perched on the edge of a petal. He catches my eye in a
momentary display of wonder!

His Protection:
I can't count the number of times and myriad ways that I have been tempted and
often succumbed to fear. Fear about so many different things - sometimes well-founded
concerns that turn into dark foreboding thoughts. Sometimes my own imagination
begins to dictate my feelings.
In the depths of those time, his Spirit has met me in that lonely place.

"Its alright, I am here! Don't be afraid." (from Mark 6)

"Don't be afraid for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you are mine! When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. For I am the Lord your God! I am your Savior!"
(from Isaiah 43)

Look deep into creation. His character is seen in all the details he has lovingly created.
His provision is constant and he protects and sustains the work of his hands.

"He is a shield to those who take refuge in him." (from Proverbs 3)

Why, I wonder, does Fear find such a foothold?
It is the temptation to doubt the love that God has declared for me.
Right at the moment that I think I may be alone, fear takes root!
But if I stop to look to both his word and the truth of his creation, I
see Goodness, Strength, and Protection.

Even in the most severe environments, he offers his care.
Even in my most severe circumstances, he shields me.

His Provision:
God's provision is seen in every aspect of his creation!
Not just providing the barest of necessities, but pouring from his hand
is bountiful profusion.

"Look at the birds, they do not plant or harvest or store up food because your Heavenly Father
feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are." (From Matthew 6)

"You crown the year with a bountiful harvest. Even the hard pathways overflow
with abundance!" (from Psalm 68)

Abundance can take many forms; not always in temporal things - but rather in the
heart - in the quiet certainty that, contrary to all appearances, God will provide!

The realm of nature provides such a wonderful example of God's provision.
Faithfully, he sends everything required for life, for everything he has created.

For his own people, though, his own reputation is on the line!
What kind of God would faithfully sustain the natural world and then neglect
the children whom he treasures? For the sake of his own name, he
faithfully provides and in his inimitable way, he provides bountifully!
I detect joy in his giving!

His Guidance:
Many times along the way, I have had no sense of what lies just beyond this day or this moment!
The next step, no matter which direction, is a step clouded in obscurity.

How I have struggled with uncertainty!
And yet, as I wait, a plan unfolds - often quietly without great fanfare -
but in ways far beyond my ability to have imagined.
And every piece of it fits into place with perfection!
There is only one explanation: Someone else's plan was in play!

"For I am about to do a brand new thing. See! I have already begun. Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness!" ( from Isaiah 43)

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. ' Plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.' " (from Jeremiah 29)

"He cares for his people with a true heart and leads them with skillful hands."
(from Psalm 78)

The journey is still in progress. I will continue to find instruction in God's lovely
creation. The pathway, I have found, is never marked out in detail ahead of
where I am today.

But, I can say this with certainty:
"I still belong to you! You are holding my right hand, you will keep on guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny." (Psalm 73: 23-24)

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