“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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Location: United States

A person God turned around many times.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

God's impressive expressive artwork

Sorrow and love come mingled down

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.” (Is. 49:15,16).

Study the images captured in the photo above. Study it long. Study it hard and intensely. I’ve looked upon artists’ paintings that try to perfectly represent the love of God. Yet they fall so short because they are made by man; they lack the power, the natural force that come from God’s paintings when the brush strokes of His providences result from the crucible of human suffering.

What do we see in the moment of climax due to the end of separation brought upon this mother and her baby? What do we hear from the finale of perhaps a year since they were together? What regrets are in their minds, especially of the parent?

Her daughter was much smaller, possibly just starting to toddle and talk, when she left for her unaccompanied tour in Iraq. How she has grown! So much was missed in her development; so much precious time is lost forever! So many missed opportunities to pray with her little one before she went to sleep at night and instill in her little girl trust in her Saviour and protector! So many chances to comfort a hurt and to weld hearts in an eternal bond.

Her sorrow and love come mingled down.

And what of the little girl? What about her regrets? Her little heart grieved the loss of Mommy. O how she wanted to feel her mother’s touch and to cuddle in her embrace! O how she needed Mommy’s visible presence to know for sure Mommy was really alive and well!

Behold God’s exquisite, beautiful art. The paintings of the infinite One. We see them every day evoked from the suffering of separation and even in the permanent separation by death. We see His imaging in the pain, both physically from disease and mishaps, and mentally and emotionally from sorrow and guilt. “Death reigned” has been His mighty signature on every picture He has ever painted for us. (Rom. 5:14).

“Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.…
Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.…
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Ps. 90:3,5,10).

Yet the halos behind the objects of His paintings reveal a glory we could not otherwise attain without His wrath upon us.

His sorrow and love must come mingled down.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.…
O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad according to the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.” (Ps. 90:12,14-17).

The end product of God’s artistry is His character indelibly imprinted upon ours. Though the going will be rough, the freedoms and privileges of His likeness will more than compensate us. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (Jas. 5:11). “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5).

It is only in the clash and hardship that the heart can be cleansed of self-love and self-exaltation. Difficulty brings out the genuine image of God that He desires to develop in us. The ripening, the loosing from the bonds of Satan, the liberation of feigned faith and dissimulation, only come out of difficulty and pain and sorrow.

We see it in the faith of “Gideon…Barak…Samson, and of Jephthae…Samuel…of the prophets,” and all the great men and women throughout history who faced trouble and overcame it through the power of the Holy Spirit, “who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” (Heb. 11:32-37).

In so many God has brought out sorrow and love that come mingled down.

The furnace of affliction forged in them the seal of the living God in their foreheads, as He eked out of them unpretentious selflessness which alone projects Himself to Satan’s kingdom of this world.

God’s servants go out in a blaze of glory with the most powerful, convicting expressions of honesty and faith and submission. Paul, writing from death row— “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2Tim. 4:6-8). Samson, sacrificing his life—“‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein…at his death.” (Jdg. 16:30). Jacob, tortured by a dislocated hip, crying out, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.” (Gen. 32:26). Rachel, with desperate courage in fatal birthpains—“As her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni (son of my sorrow).” (Gen. 35:18). Aaron, offering his life to save his beloved people from the wrath of the Lord, people who had so many times angrily tried to stone him, “ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living...” (Num. 16:47,48).We see this in the life of Abel at the hands of his lethal brother; in David who said, “Yea, for Thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” We see it in Moses who laid down his own eternal life for people who only wanted to stone him

We see God’s glory in Moses and Aaron, both of whom walked submissively up their respective last mountain, each knowing they would not descend.

We see it in every animal in the wild hit by a moving vehicle or taken down by a hungry predator, as they cry out the deepest yearnings of their souls. We see it in the grief from monetary loss and possible bankruptcy when a fraudster in our civilized world victimizes an innocent knave.

But best of all we see the deepest of sentiments most freely and openly and without inhibition expressed in the whole life of the Son of God who was a living soul, a walking, talking vessel of God’s freedom of love and freedom of expression. And we hear the climax of that yearning freedom on the cross, oblivious of onlookers and speaking only to God. “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?...My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23:34).

When He saw His mother, He spoke only to her, “Woman, behold thy Son!” Then to John, “Behold thy mother!” And from that day that disciple took her into his own home. (Jn. 19:26,27).

In the last moments of torment from His Father’s apparent forsaking Him, and His dehydrated body crying out for water, they gave Him pain-deadening wine, which He feared to drink and refused. Then He roared out His deepest want and constant purpose in a lion’s victory cry over humanity’s enslavement to Satan, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost. (Jn. 19:30). Every death previous and since have pointed to this greatest of all ages passion from the depth of the human soul.

His acceptance to suffering evoked glory to God from His very betrayer, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” (Matt. 27:4). His humble submission drew from His persecutors, the chief priests, scribes and elders, the highest accolade ever awarded Him, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” (vs. 42). And from the most honest man witnessing the crucifixion, though a battle-hardened pagan, “Truly this was the Son of God.” (vs. 54). All from this most exquisite artistry by the Master Painter, our Father in heaven, with His Son as the most superb model.

At every witness of sorrow and love let us study and be changed into the same image. Within all of it let us see the heart and character of the God of truth and grace and suffering.

Sorrow and love come mingled down.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

See, from His head, His hand,
His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
—Isaac Watts


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