Sometimes things happen that are so unbelievable, and extraordinary that you think to yourself – If I tell this to anyone, they will think I am making this up. I probably have more stories like this than I can count, but walking through my studio this week with my friend Liz, we looked at a particular, sort of beat-up painting of mine and she said to me – You should write about this.
I have had the surprisingly sweet experience of selling quite a few of my paintings. When I first began painting it really didn’t occur to me that I would ever sell them. But such is the insecurity and lack of confidence in amateur artists.
Fast forward to a approximately 10 years ago. I had done a pretty extensive grouping of oyster shells. On a series of small ones I had added small pieces of driftwood all the way around them. It was a fun and unique touch for the smaller unframed canvasses. When I first took them to a gallery the one that was my very favorite sold right away. I was sad to see it go – as you sometimes feel more connected to some paintings than others.
Well, last year, my son, David Paul and our nephew, Zachary, were at a landfill to drop off some construction debris. Another huge dumpster truck pulled in next to them and dumped its load. As the debris settled onto the ground my nephew looked down and lifted something out of the heap. He yelled over to my son, “Hey, Is this your Mom’s?” And sure enough – it was that small painting with the driftwood all the way around and still mostly intact. My son sent me a picture – but there was no doubt it was mine. He knows my work and my signature as well as I do.
At first, I felt kind of pitiful that my artwork would end up in a landfill – but then I felt spectacular that the God of the universe could so orchestrate the chain of events that would put David Paul and Zachary at the huge landfill at the same time that a dumpster truck would be dumping my art – and that they would even see it – and that it wasn’t buried with everything else that would be dumped – and that it was barely damaged! That is some kind of amazing orchestration in my book!
It is certainly a reminder that God is able to do what we could not think or even imagine… and sometimes when we would have least expected it.
This whole story brings me to this point – Even when we think things are out of control, or that God does not see, or care, for that matter – there is a truth that we must remember. He sees us. He knows us. He has a way of surprising us. There will be great, big, huge things that we will not understand, and moments when we will feel that “God did not come through for me,” but it is only because our eyes cannot see His ways, and our heart cannot understand His timing. His “no,” may be His greatest love; and sometimes His “yes,” may bring about great suffering. As a parent we can understand this in a small measure – oftentimes our children do not understand our “no” to a situation at all – and they wouldn’t comprehend it, even if we tried to explain it. And sometimes, our “yes” to something may bring temporary pain to our child: a shot at the Doctor’s office, or a surgery – and they may not understand that the pain is ultimately for their good.
The comparison falls short, of course, because we in no way have the omnipotence, nor omniscience of the God of the whole world – but in some small measure we can learn to trust Him if we will remember that He is the one who loves us best and He has the ultimate plan in mind for His glory and our good.
I don’t always remember that – but some days – when a long gone painting turns up in the most unexpected way – I realize that God has mysterious ways of revealing His love – and sometimes that is all I need to know.
Beside the Flames and Flowers,