Walking on water (Matt 14:25-31) is God’s invitation for me to move forward in life, through thick and thin. And it works very well as long as I am staring into the face of Christ. At that moment, I am not thinking about what’s going on around me or whether this is possible or not. I am only gazing intently into the face of the One whom I love so deeply, Christ Jesus.
This realization came about because I was having difficulty managing my own reaction to bad news. I am deeply affected by how we humans treat Father God; how we humans treat one another; how we humans treat the gift of our home, the Earth.
Oh, and I need to tell you that when I use the phrase, Father God, I am referring to all three persons of the Holy Trinity, not just God, the Father, Almighty.
What so often happens is that I allow myself to become focused on the problem and seem to forget the solution which is my Beloved Father God. I allow myself to become focused on what’s amiss and is paining me instead of moving into an intimate embrace of Father God.
Meditations of Quiet
I can step into His embrace simply by stopping my fretting and doing a quieting meditation on a particular passage of scripture. I often use Psalm 46:10 or John 14:6. I focus specifically on the words of action. For example from Psalm 46; Be STILL and KNOW that I AM GOD. Or from John 14; I AM the WAY the TRUTH, and the LIFE. These meditations help to bring me back to a focus on Father.
Meditating upon Father reminds me of several important things. First, that this world and her people aren’t my personal problem. The world is Father God’s project. The best that I can personally do is to speak to people one at a time through the artwork we make. Talking to people’s hearts is what the art that Father and I make is all about. Each book that we write, each painting that we make, each has an audience. It is Father’s Holy Spirit who prepares the hearts of individuals to receive His invitation of love. These preparations are Father’s role, not mine.
Second, and especially useful to me, is the power of just being still and quiet. That’s the terrific gift in Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.” This particular Psalm has several invitations into Father’s embrace. Whenever I am out of sorts, to be still is perhaps the most crucial inner state of being. To know – not in my head, but in my heart – is a confidence builder for me. It’s a commitment to trust Him; that Father has everything under control. I can relax and get on with my walking on water.
Writing & Journaling
I can also move into His embrace by writing in my two-way journal in which I have meaningful conversations with Father. What I enjoy about these times is the free exchange I have with Father. It’s as if we’re both in me – well, we actually are – and we’ve met at a heavenly coffee shop, and we’re chatting about what’s on our hearts.
Again, this communion with Father brings my eyes off the water upon which I am walking, and the many fish below who are living their lives, and it draws me into the loving eyes of Father God. When I am writing, just as I am right now, it’s as if I am transported to another place and time. It’s only Beloved and me with no one to disturb our peace.
Writing is, for me, the equivalent to ascending and seeing in the Spirit. That’s what I mean about being transported. It is in these states of being that exchange happens. It’s an intimate exchange, spirit to Spirit, a mystic union if you will. In these states of seeing and ascending, I can bring whatever is of concern to me and seek Father’s counsel.
The bottom line for me is that anything, whether writing or meditation, which draws my gaze and attention to Him is all that I need to continue walking atop the troubled waters of life. Gazing into His love and beauty reminds me that these matters aren’t my personal problem to solve. Falling into His embrace reminds me of the God-given gift that I am to the world and that the one thing I can do to make a difference is praying through the art that Father God and I make every day.
For more perspective on dealing with life challenges and difficulties, see my two-part post on the Crown of Thorns; Enduring Hardship; Love and Dignity.
Re-post from NW Ekklesia.com
In a previous post, I shared my vision of seeing and receiving my Crown of Thorns. At that time Father God had given me a spiritual tool to help me endure life’s challenges without feeling a desire to give up. My Crown of Thorns enables me to keep moving into creation, life, and light. It reminds me that I am loved and am not alone.
Since then Father has also revealed a good deal more about the significance of the crown and how, at His crucifixion, instead of mocking the Christ, it was actually one of His highest honors. So too can it be for each of us as well.
First, Christ went to the cross out of love for us. He went to restore us to full relationship with Father God.
Second, any mockery from the Liar toward Christ that came through His executioners was foiled by God’s love for us and by the truth that indeed Christ is King.
Christ’s Love for Us
Christ – to my way of looking at it – went to the cross entirely out of love for the children of God. It was out of love for all persons that empowered the Christ to say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they’re doing.” Christ loved even His persecutors, so much so that He forgave them.
The purpose of Christ’s sacrifice was not – first and foremost – to save us from our sins. For me to think so, I would actually be living in a spirit of fear – fear of hell and damnation. If there is anything to fear it would be separation from God. If you know anything about my life story, separation from God was not what I wanted.
Christ’s sacrificial gift is a gift of life. It is a gift of restoration allowing to move us back into deep, personal relationship with God the Father. The sin issue is minor when compared to our full and complete restoration into relationship.
Christ’s example is a love that we know almost nothing of here in this world. We live in an eye for an eye culture that demands vengeance and retribution instead of forgiveness. In our human condition, we prize justice instead of righteousness. I am convinced that most of us don’t even know what justice and righteous actually are. Most of us in this world seem to believe in a resolution of violence, however mild or severe, as if they will solve our problem and make the world a better place. Personally, I’m not convinced that any of us even know what that so-called better place would look like. We’re so profoundly governed by our own self-interests which affect our grasp of these concepts.
Christ as King
In a way, it’s funny how often the Liar tries to mock Christ, God, or the Holy Spirit because he reminds me so much of Wiley Coyote from the Warner Brothers cartoons. Everything that the coyote tries in order to catch the Roadrunner, literally backfires on him. That, of course, is what’s so funny in the cartoon and the unmatched futility of both the coyote and the Liar are what amuses me. Mocking God however is not a laughing matter even for the Liar.
At Jesus’ crucifixion, I’m guessing that the Liar thought that he had won. After all, he was killing the Christ, the very Son of God, whom he knew full well had come to save the world. But as it is stated in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, the White Witch had forgotten the deep magic.
So it was that the Liar lead the Roman executioners to mock the Christ with a crown of thorns instead of giving Him the usual gold crown of laurel or oak leaves. Both were traditional in those days.
I firmly believe that Christ wore His crown of thorns joyfully, maybe even with modest pride. That crown spoke truthfully of His Kingship. I’d like to believe that angels by the thousands were singing songs of praise and honor to Him, and perhaps He heard them.
I’ve come to see more in my own Crown of Thorns. For me, my Crown of Thorns is far more than just a wondrous tool that helps me to endure hardship. It is indeed a celebration of my own son-ship as a prince of the heavenly realms – one among billions. My Crown of Thorns reminds me of and reinforces my own identity in Christ, my Lord, and my Brother.
Lew Curtiss is a facilitator and artist with NW Ekklesia. To read more of his story click on the link here; http://nwekklesia.com/artists/lew-curtiss/
Re-post from NW Ekklesia.com;
Let me tell you a story about a gift from Father God that released me from my attitude of bondage and set me creatively free. For a long time, I was very ambiguous about life. In fact, at times I didn’t care if I woke up in the morning. I felt that bad.
A series of life experiences had become burdens of futility. What I mean is that it didn’t seem to matter what I would do to buoy myself up; eventually, I would slip back down into a heavy ambiguity. The life experiences that burdened me were a childhood and youth of disruptions in my family-life so much so that I finally lost all sense of peace and safety. Then there were years of burdens from adult life that just simply wore me down. In the end, I was a borderline diabetic and carried an extra 110-pounds of body weight. The overall effect of these experiences was that my desire to grow out of this stuff was wearing down to nothing.
The vision of a solution came in quiet time with the Lord. In meditation in the Spirit, I saw huge thorns. I was surrounded by brambles as if I were in a thicket of them. At first, I interpreted them to be a presentation of my life of prickly challenges and pain. But by zooming back for a broader view, it became apparent that I was staring at a Crown of Thorns. This is the same device that the Roman soldiers used on the Christ to mock Him (Matt 27; Mark 15; John 19) as the “king of the Jews.”
I asked Father, “What’s this got to do with me?” Then I saw a tree with a vertical crotch of two great big limbs. I believe that it was an oak tree because of the bark and leaves I could see. On the left, the limb was gray and dead. On the right, the limb was alive and healthy.
Father said to me, “On the left, you can see your ambiguity toward life and death. On the right, you can see life itself. Choose.” This tree was actually a fork in the road of my life. I had a choice to make.
I looked and asked, “Why do I need to choose? Why can’t I just let things happen as they will? I’ll keep doing my work for however long I can, and if I don’t wake up one morning, then I’ll be free of life’s miseries.”
He showed me that, “The gray limb on the left is death. The green limb on the right is life. You cannot live in an imaginary gray area between the two. You either want death – and that is very likely why you don’t care if you live or die – or you want life. It’s one or the other and is not a mere coin toss. It’s one or the other. Secondly, to live with the presence of death lingering in your life will only bring death. It will kill any and all creative work and relationship that you attempt.”
For me to leave things in this vague state would completely block any work that I wanted to try and do. Death lingering over my shoulder dampened my attitude toward life and would effectively cut off anything that I thought I could do with my life. I hadn’t seen this before. This made sense, and it was as if this indecision diluted everything about living a worthwhile life.
I then realized that I needed to decide deliberately and not leave life and death to a mere celestial coin toss. Something welled up inside of me, maybe it was Father’s love, but I chose life. At that moment I sawed off the dead limb, choosing the whole-life trunk as my path.
At that moment, I suddenly understood the Crown of Thorns that Father had shown me earlier. This was my Crown of Thorns. This was Father’s gift to me to help remind me that life is always going to be peppered with troubles, large and small. The crown also told me that I am a prince of heaven. Lastly, I was reminded that my difficulties are not endured alone. Christ is present and offers to be my strength in the midst of them. For me it’s the knowledge that there is a way out, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am not alone. I am loved, and that is what sustains me.
I now wear my Crown of Thorns whenever I face a challenge, difficulties, or any kind of senseless misery. It’s often difficult, but with Father and my crown, I can make it through the challenges of my life if I will but choose to.
Lew Curtiss is a facilitator and artist with NW Ekklesia. To read more of his story click on the link here; http://nwekklesia.com/artists/lew-curtiss/
In this Holy Day season of Christmas, I am reminded by a Brother, Christ (like wrist) Otto, author of Mary: When God Shares His Glory, of the many parallels that we artists share with Mary, the mother of Jesus. The late Madeleine L’Engle, author of the master work, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, also drew on these parallels by reminding artists of the need to be available to the work Father asks of us. In submission and surrender Mary said, “Let it be unto me according to Your will.” In this way the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, Immanuel.
If we artists will adopt Mary’s submission to the work, we too can participate in this act of incarnation of His Word. Through us, in the cause of Father God, our art is also a form of His Word becoming flesh.
We might want to ask what our inspirational source is for the art we make. Is it our own mind, our own intellect? Or is our source, in relational-faith, none other than the Beloved Father Himself? And when the angel of invitation appears in our hearts, do we choose to accept Father’s invitation to make the work? Will we venture, with Him, into the invisible spiritual realm and render our experience as artwork to share with God’s people? If our relational-faith with Father God is indeed the sole source of our work, then can it not be said that we too participate in the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us?
We artists, as the Charashim of God (His creative artisans), are we not Spirit filled? Do we not posses the closest of intimate relationships with Father God? Do we not participate in our own Mystic Union, that He is in us and we are in Him?
The Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she conceived. In our own spiritual union with Father God we too can experience the conception of works of art that Father desires to share with the world. In this way we participate in the incarnation of His Word. But, are we willing to surrender our own agendas and yield to Him for the benefit of our fellow human kind? What is Father God asking each one of us to “enflesh,” as L’Engle says?
The choice is ours, dear artists. It’s always been ours.
Personally, I am still working to figure out what art is, what the purpose of art is, and why some human beings even bother to make art. When I go back to the beginnings, the earliest expressions of what we now call art – cave paintings & carvings – I am captured by the thought that those primordial people had something other than making art in mind. I don’t think for an instant that our primordial ancestors asked about what they were doing. It’s almost as if an urge needed expression and carvings and cave paintings were simply the necessary outlet.
I believe as well that expressions through singing, chanting, dancing, drumming and the like all came into being and developed because of a rising need for the release of celebration and expression that could not be suppressed. They could not simply sit on their hands and ignore these creative urges that were rising up within them.
Today – and I promise to be very brief – art is treated as are all human products as an economic commodity. Those who buy and sell art, after stealing it from the artist – that is all but the motion picture artists – run off with the many objects of art in the world to buy and sell them with vigorous abandon. Success is often measured by the auction block price tag. And while the artist never sees a dime of those later transactions, that artist is deemed a great success because some of their work sold for thousands, even millions, of dollars. These are transactions which completely exclude the artists.
How did we get from our ancestral heritage of mark-making to today’s “art market”? It’s a question that has interested me for the past decade. Before that time I was all too willing to sell whatever artwork it was that I had made in order to become a “success”. No longer though. I’ve absolutely no interest in playing the art world game with all of its sham, glitter, and goo. I know why I make the art I do and the source from whence it comes. I even know the purpose of my art, and it isn’t to garner personal fame or fortune. In fact, since there’s little or nothing that I want to do to change that condition, is the question even worth my asking?
I think it may be of some value on a personal level because I am still trying to grasp my role as an artist in this world.
As I’m “talking” here, perhaps the question that I’m after is indeed deeply personal and can best be shaped by asking, how I can reconnect with those primordial ancestors who made such innocent and selfless marks? How best do I draw from their drive because I believe that, for them, it was a spiritual drive. So is mine.
In those primordial days, I don’t see someone sitting around thinking in terms of bison anatomy and landscape beauty that they wish to capture visually. I see someone whose entire world was spiritual. This is one of the marks of the emergence of humanity, the acknowledgment of connection with the spiritual realm(s).
I see a duality of vision – harmonious to be sure – wherein those early peoples could see both the living animals as well as their spirits at the same time. I neither know nor care what that looks like in literal terms. What I do care about is the fact of this dual vision they experienced and carried within themselves.
Somewhere, somehow, a person chose to celebrate and express that dual vision in imagery. Carving – even desiring to carve – and painting developed into a means of that celebratory expression. I want to know this selfsame celebration and expression – the primordial essence of what it means to be human and to make marks of meaning.
In my own parallel experience, my life has been deeply touched by Father God. He and I developed a relationship and to this day we live in that relationship. Because Father created me as an artist, something of our spiritual relationship rises up in me and will not be silenced or ignored. I must express and, yes, even celebrate, this relationship through my artmaking with Father. It is this celebration of relationship that leads me to see our artmaking together as an act of worship. If I’d been born as I am, millennia ago, I would have experienced this selfsame life, not of creativity, but of artistic expression.
As it is, I do chant and play drums as worship. I do paint and write as worship. The writing I am doing right here, right now, is an active celebration of my relationship with my Beloved Father God. In a way, I suppose I am that so-called caveman who has dire need to share, celebrate, and express his dual vision of the physical and the spiritual with the others of his tribal clan.
A friend is in trouble. She woke up and is paralyzed on her left side and cannot stand. The prayer call came in and some of us are responding.
It weighs upon my heart when someone whom I love is in trouble. It’s part and parcel of the kingdom of relational-faith. In order to have relationship, one must risk their heart. Love, and the heart – not romance – are the essence of relationship. In my view, it’s impossible to have a relationship without love. Love is the stuff of relationship, and yes, I am repeating myself so that I am perfectly clear.
To risk one’s heart is to lay it out there where it can absorb both the joys and sorrows of others. In a word, relationship can be painful. It is the nature of relationships to have an aspect of discomfort and pain. It is also the nature of relationships to be filled with happiness and joy. It’s a connection of compassion and empathy all rolled into one. And I wouldn’t trade relationship for anything.
For me, relationship is life itself. As Father’s Word says, If I speak as do the angels, but have not love, I am nothing but a babbling noise maker. – my own paraphrase. Life and love and relationship are all three inextricably intermixed, just as is the Holy Trinity. One cannot separate oxygen from water without destroying the water itself. So it is with life, love, and relationship. They are three and yet One – period.
So, I choose to endure the lives of my friends and family, in love. I choose to hurt when they do, and to celebrate when and as they do also.
I choose this of my own freewill – Amen.