Tuesday, February 21, 2006
By Ramone - February 18, 2006
One day I had a rough night & morning with what seemed like increasing temptation, and I went to lunch at this little 'tendon' place a couple blocks & underground from where I work. As I walked back to work, I decided to go overground and was struck by the beautiful sunlight shining down on me. It was like He was shining down on me in that light, and I remembered who I was...
"I know who I am in Your light."
I was listening to a CD and heard the words, "When I survey the wondrous cross..." and knew that His cross changed everything, and no matter how things felt bad last night or the next morning, everything is still changed because of the cross. His sun never stops shining on us. I know who I am in Your light, Lord, and I love walking in Your light. There's no place I'd rather be.
"Thank You for the cross,
Thank You for the cross,
Thank You for the cross, my Friend."
This picture was the beginning of a time of really bathing in His light and learning anew what "His light" means, and what His light is in my life. Over the next few days and weeks, more pictures and understanding came. As I begin to sort it out and write about them, I'll add comments below.
By Ramone - February 17, 2006
One day I was praying on 3F and I just felt this picture as I worshipped. It was like I was looking up to God, and there was an ocean in the sky. The ocean is His love.
The song that came to mind was "Still" by Reuben Morgan:
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father You are King over the flood
I will be still and know You are God
How mighty, how large, how wide, how deep is the sea & the ocean? How powerful is it? The ocean can be a frightening thing because it is so infinitely bigger than you and I. It is uncontrollable. It is violent. It washes away. Max Lucado once said,
"How hard it is to find something that is buried at sea! Those who hunt for shipwrecks often know the exact location where a vessel once sank, yet they canot find it. The shifting tides and sand do their work well and swallow into oblivion the ships and treasure that fall under their power."
God tells us to look at the sea, because it is a picture of His love for us:
"Who is a God like You,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of His inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
You will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."
- Micah 7:18-19
As I look up and worship, as I pray for people He has laid on my heart below, He shows me His ocean of love; powerful, mighty, wild, and He is for me. This vast, mighty love has washed away my sins. His mighty love washes away our sins. All of them. Amen!
I was surprised remember that one of my favorite songs helped define this picture which I saw as I worshiped and prayed that night:
"Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heaven's eternal days.
On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God's mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heaven's peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love."
- "Here is Love" by William Rees
By Ramone - February 12, 2006
At the beginning of February I'd recently begun really discovering Him as my place of rest, my place of just feeling "whew!" and leaning on Him, laying down & being myself (this picture is about that). But one night I was being tempted hard after a night work. I searched for that place of rest, of where I can be myself, where I can lay down, and I confess it was difficult to find it because of the assault.
I don't know what happened next or what came first, but I saw this picture of a, and at the same time my spirit came through and made the decision to rest in Him (I, my spirit, rose up and by choice overcame the feeling that was holding me down). At the same time it was also clearly and totally His deliverance. It was and still is wonderful to rest in Him.
Some days later I realized I didn't actually understand the picture, so I asked Him to please show me what the fountain means and why I saw it when He delivered me. I looked up several scriptures about fountains (Zechariah 13:1, Psalms 87:7, John 7:38, John 4:14, Isaiah 35:6, etc.) but while they were all beautiful, they weren't what He was saying to me through the picture. Then the answer came:
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
Through the picture and when He delivered me, He was letting me know that *He* is my heart's guard. I couldn't guard my heart, but Jesus was now telling me & promising me that He guards my heart. Thank You, Jesus!
One day soon after I was actually afraid of going home and wanted to detour for fear of being alone with my thoughts. But He said to me, "No, I'm your heart's guard; You're not alone." When I can't guard my own heart, when I'm afraid of my weakness, You're there! You're my Dad, You'll protect me from me, from the enemy, and from all else there may be.
The fountain, He said, is actually me. It's us, you and I. "You are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain... a garden fountain, a well of flowing water." (Song of Songs 4:12-16) Sometimes, no, many times it's hard to believe I'm a fountain of clear, clean water, but I am. And this is the inside of my heart! Having faith in Him means also believing what He shows me and what He says to me, even what He says about me. He made me joyful & set me free when He showed me this, when He showed me myself and what He unlocks in me! I'm enclosed by flesh, set on sin. His wind can blow open & release the fountain that I am inside... I must believe Him that it's true, that to Him I'm a refreshing fountain, a cool flowing water to Him who loves me; He delights in me. Thank You, Jesus!
Jesus, if this is Your love, then have me! Only You can have me... I think I've failed all else, but if You love me this much, You have me. You alone, Jesus, amen.
By Ramone - February 11, 2006
Originally I sketched this on February 5th after being assaulted by some private temptation, in a similar way to this time. As I sought the Lord for help, I suddenly realized I was seeking Him for rest. He gave me rest in Him, and I saw or felt this picture.
Remember playing games of "tag" when you were young? Sometimes there was a "safe" base or place. Maybe it was a telephone pole, for example. As long as you touched the pole, you were safe. This picture is kind of like that. I realized Jesus is my Sabbath rest, He's the "pole" I touch----but not just touch, I rest there against Him always and never leave!
Growing up, "Sabbath" to me was something that was temporary, one day a week; it also was not real rest, because we were all busy trying to keep it the "right" way or trying to focus on God. We didn't know that the Sabbath day of the Old Covenant was a shadow of resting in Jesus.
That night as I was tempted and I rested against Jesus, I realized that His love brings me true rest, real rest! And suddenly "Sabbath" became a beautiful word to me because of His love!
On the back of the original sketch of this picture I wrote the words of a song by Charles Wesley that speaks of this resting in Jesus:
Lord, I believe a rest remains
To all Thy people known,
A rest where pure enjoyment reigns,
And Thou art loved alone.
A rest where all our soul's desire
Is fixed on things above;
Where fear, and sin, and grief expire,
Cast out by perfect love.
O that I now the rest might know,
Believe, and enter in!
Now, Savior, now the the power bestow,
And let me cease from sin.
Remove this hardness from my heart,
This unbelief remove:
To me the rest of faith impart,
The Sabbath of Thy love.
By Ramone - February 7, 2006
Sometimes you don't notice that you've been feeling "blah" for a good while until you come into His presence deeper and say, "My, where have I been!" It was after one of those times that I saw this picture while praying. I was ascending the escalators to my prayer spot... I'd already been battered by temptations and had been struggling for a period of time, but I found renewed energy to just throw that stuff off and praise God.
As I was praying up there on the walls, I thought of my weaknesses and how I sometimes feel like I never seem to fully overcome them and their cycles. It was then that I felt Him say to me, "It's through those cracks that My glory flows", and I pictured it like this.
I am humbled by You, Lord! You know my cracks, my weaknesses, those things that torment me. And I know I'm not to give up on them and that You have healing for me. Yet You say it is through these very places that You shine, that You flow!
I normally want to hide my "cracks", but it God says it's through these places that He shines. That means I shouldn't hide. My friend Eric found the truth of 1st John 1:7 when he was going through a hard time that he had to share with many people.
"If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin."
Walking in the light means not being afraid of being seen. He can redeem every darkness in our lives, so don't resist Him when His Spirit leads you to share with someone you trust about how you're struggling and need help (note: follow His Spirit on that -- don't just open up to anyone unless He's telling you!). Both James and John wrote about how He's desiring for us to share our weaknesses with one another, and that this is His humble path to healing for us.
A few side notes:
A couple of days after I finished this picture and knew what it meant, I ran across a quote on Makoto Fujimura's blog and got permission to put it here. It came as beautiful confirmation to what He was telling me about my weaknesses.
Also, when I made a first sketch of this while praying, I knew it wasn't finished & needed more. On the train on the way home I tried spreading the gray sketch ink with some water, but it messed it up. I ended up doing three more versions that night while on the train and at home (when I really should've been occupied with my wife and her friend who was staying with us). Finally I let it go and smacked myself because I'd been trying to "get it right" outside of His presence, outside of that place of pitiful prayer where I'd been before! Perhaps the next day or a few days later I went humbly back to the Lord and was able to draw the fifth version (it's by His grace that I received, and by His grace I must draw!).
It still needed something, though. Yoko saw it and said it needed more light on the places, so I added that. When you walk into a place and you know He's going to shine through you, it's good and reassuring to know that His sun is also shining independent of you! And His sun never stops shining! He will shine through your cracks, He will pour Himself and His life through Your weak places. Don't be afraid to let them be seen. Don't hide them. There is a reason He lets us have cracks sometimes!
"He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Finding Meaning Through Weakness
I was reading through a blog called "Refractions" by artist Makoto Fujimura, and ran across his take on his experiences at a 2003 Christmas exhibition in Toyko. (read the whole story here)
Here is an excerpt of what he wrote:
"A Japanese pastor wrote that the most important message of Christmas is that Jesus was born as a babe, weak and vulnerable to the world. A baby is utterly dependent on a mother and a father, and others helping the baby to survive. Imagine, one who would claim to be the all-powerful Creator in flesh, becoming vulnerable and DEPENDENT on fallen human beings like us!
But when you think about it, a baby’s strength also lies in this weakness, as he or she draws people together. The message of Christmas is a paradox. It is through the weak that power is displayed. It is through the vulnerability, that true lasting security is gained. It is through being utterly dependent on others, that a true community is created.
The message of Christmas, then, can be applied to what we do as artists. What would our art look like if we truly believed that through our weaknesses, through even what we are ashamed of, we could create something that is lasting and meaningful, and incarnate hope back into the world. What if the power of a community is not in the display of power, but in the acknowledgement of our weaknesses? Artists can play an important role in helping a community to be authentic and honest. Japanese aesthetics already embraces the idea that weakness is beautiful: that what is wearing away and what is imperfect actually points to eternity."
(used by permission)
Sometimes I shy from sharing weaknesses with others, even though I know the apostle James encouraged us that sharing these things with one another & praying together is the path to finding healing. Though it's difficult to share brokenness, every time I've done it I've been encouraged. Each time God has been there to catch me and show that my sacrifice (of what, my dignity?) was well worth it, even if only for the sake of others.
I drew a picture the other day about this. Finding Makoto's quote was nice and well-articulated confirmation of what I felt making the picture. It's nice to know God is showing us all everywhere that there is strength in our weaknesses.
Friday, February 10, 2006
By Ramone - February 5, 2006
Bless You, Lord, bless Your heart. Bless Your name. I praise You, Lord. One thing I ask: to be with You and to bless You forever. In Jesus' name, amen.
By Ramone - January 28, 2006
Thhe "wilderness" season is a place God takes us through for many reasons that are hard to see at the time. Often it's a time when He is building our trust in Him, or a time of change, or a time when He seems to withdraw in order to draw out our hunger to be with Him even more. Or all or none of the above. It feels like winter, often, especially when the beautiful "good stuff" of yesterday disappears.
My bro RK and I realized that God was changing the nature of our prayer walks in one area, and we were entering a "winter" season. Winter is a time when it seems like nothing is growing, when all the beautiful flowers of yesterday have fallen and died. Yet critically important growth is happening under the surface; and snow is also said to bring nutrition that can't come from the rain. Flowers fall away, and after a seemingly eternal season of seeing nothing, fruit will come where the flowers used to be.
Jesus promised new life would come forth. We don't have to be afraid of letting go of the good things He's done before. He brings life from death, resurrection from the cross. Let Him hold you and don't fear the giving way of yesterday's beauty. He'll hold you and bring you even closer through the wilderness & the winter, and you will see joy in Him.