Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Deeper Look

As I spoke at our Women's Brunch last weekend, I knew something had to go.  It was too long.  And so I finally succumbed to cutting an entire section with the intent of sharing it here instead.  Not because it is less important, but because of its weight. 

The topic was "Capturing the Wonders of God through Photography", and yet, I wanted to delve much deeper than our cameras to rich spiritual realities.  One aspect of taking a good picture is training the eye to see.  With that thought I was drawn to a work of art painted by one of our former high school students, Rachael Alvir.  They are two canvases, yet one unit.

The message of these paintings is so powerful that I never cease to be moved by them.  They were originally painted for our "Experience the Passion" exhibit of Good Friday and are of the two thieves crucified along with Jesus, one on either side. (Luke 23:32-33)  They represent what we will do with Jesus; either accept or reject.

What stands out is the eyes.

One, the artist shows with open eye, looking at Jesus, seeing his own need of a Savior.  Jesus responds with, "Today, you will be with me in paradise."  (Luke 23:43)

(by Rachael Alvir)

But the other criminal, righteous in his own eyes, continues to mock, rejecting Jesus, and so chooses hell.  (Luke 23:39)   The artist depicts this man not only with his eye shut, but sewn closed, not with paint, but actual threads cross stitched through the canvas.  It's as if he is afraid of seeing.  He doesn't trust himself, because if he saw, he might believe.

(by Rachael Alvir)

And isn't that like us?  We keep our lives jam packed with activity, or with our own interests and responsibilities, with noise, ignoring the still small voice that calls us to look to Jesus.  We are afraid of seeing because we might have to deal with issues . . . some change of heart we'd rather not face.

However, the thief who believed, was not immediately removed from his suffering.  The sight he saw was messy.  Likewise, our trials do not magically go away, but as we look on our suffering Savior we gain a perspective that sets them in their place, bringing comfort and hope. 

Under the blood of Jesus we are given what we do not deserve . . . grace and forgiveness.  

(by Rachael Alvir)

And under that same blood we are not given what we do deserve . . .eternal separation from God.

(by Rachael Alvir)

These pictures are disturbing, and so I show them only in sections, keeping them small.  But like Charles Swindoll says in his book titled,The Greatest Life of all, Jesus, "Sometimes the most horrific images can become the catalyst for our most significant life changes . . . only if we resist the urge to look away."

This is why, when Jesus asks the blind man, "What do you want me to do for you?"  I pray this prayer right along with him, crying out,  "Lord, I want to see!"  (Mark 10:51)

My youngest brother, who lost his wife after only six months of marriage, demonstrates this truth to me more than any other.  He dared to open his eye and place his gaze on His Savior.  He still suffers . . . deeply.  But he has gained perspective beyond the grave, into life eternal. 

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