Are you an artist? Have you ever tried creating something of beauty using paint or other things like paper, metal, wood, plastic, or found objects? It’s not easy. Many of us love to create things of beauty out of simple materials. I have a friend who does woodworking, and some are sculptors, and others are painters and so on. Some make artsy furniture. Some express creativity by tinkering and fixing things.
Cubism and Picasso
One art style that intrigues me is cubism. Pablo Picasso was an innovator of cubism in the 1905-1916 (see Pablo Picasso “3 Musicians”, “Seated Woman Marie Therese”). He frequently put images of people together in broken or unnatural ways. The components are all there, such as an eye, nose, or arms and legs, but they are disoriented such that a nose may stick out of the side of the face, or an arm or eye may stick out where it should not, or the image may be cut up and put back together in strange ways.
The verse from Hebrews 12:13, about being ‘out of joint’, comes to mind. When a ‘discombobulated’ (yes, it’s a real word) image is presented, the mind races to try and put things back into order. A story was told to us at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris that Picasso’s wife had hastily dropped off his paintings in the studio, and he later saw them and wondered who they belong to because they were upside down! This mistake inspired him as his mind sought to figure out what was going on.
I don’t claim to be an artist, but do it as a hobby, and my work definitely falls under the ‘non-objective,’ or ‘impressionistic” categories. I fold large numbers of old paper lithographed prints into ‘image fragments’ and then arrange them in patterns using repetition and symmetry to give a feeling of movement, or a ‘work-in-progress’ effect.
It is only partially discombobulated. It needs a lot of double-sided ScotchTM permanent sticky tape to put everything together in a new unity and harmony, like the body of Christ. The sticky tape helps to reassemble the fragments and hold them together. Typically, a centerpiece is also used to provides a focus on peaceful green pastures, still waters, mountain peaks, or other very restful scene that is in stark contrast to the fragments.
Sticky tape is a bond, and a flimsy example of love, no doubt. Love is the bond according to Paul, who wrote “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:14). But what if the bond is not as healthy as it should be? James says “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). We have help when relationship troubles occur and we can do our part in the restoring the bonds of love.
Perhaps we can imagine ourselves as pieces in a larger picture, and then consider how well-connected we are with other pieces/people in our particular area. Our relationships can get fragmented so easily, and shattered like shards of glass from a broken mirror. Like in Picasso’s art, there is a brokenness, but what can we do if we have relationship trouble?
James said “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray” (James 5:13). The Lord promises will be that ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). When there is trouble, I pray. He helps me do the right thing. If I need to ask forgiveness, so be it. It is a great relief to know what pleases God, according to his word, and to have His help in the process of reconciliation.
Years ago, I had a party friend in college that I chose to be best man at my wedding. However, my brother Howard should have been my best man, because he was dear to me and had always quietly been there for me. A few years later when he was getting married, it hit me what he must have felt, and it broke my heart. He never said a word about it but I apologized to him anyway.
One day he called and asked me to be his best man. I was stunned and felt undeserving - it was one of many gracious experiences I have received from Christians, like my brother and friends at church. This was grace, the unmerited and unwarranted favor from my brother.
Over the decades I can recall many times I hurt someone by complaining, or being critical, or having a bad attitude. Yes, it’s true and it’s a long list. But people at church especially have given me grace and forgiveness in return. This love has changed me and I want to show this same grace to others.
Experience tells me there is a difference between reading that God is loving and gracious, and experiencing the grace after confessing a sin, or receiving forgiveness through others who graciously practice the word.
God’s people are beautiful, like Jesus. Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34).” He says that we know how to love by how He loved us.
To me it means that the more I experience His love the more it changes how I love others. It is the same with forgiveness, as Paul says “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
There are even times to pray with ‘shameless audacity’ as Jesus described in the parable of the friend coming in at midnight (Luke 11:5-13). James also said “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). He wants us to ask, seek, knock and really press in to Him in prayer, and fasting. Don’t give up because He is ready when we are, and ready to take care of all our life’s needs.
Prayer is spending time with Him and talking with Him. It is so refreshing when I can finally put my worries into His care. But to be honest, I can be stubborn, and sometimes it takes a lot of prayer and fasting. The scriptures say that even though Jesus knew how hurtful we could be, He sacrificed everything in the hopes that we could have an intimate relationship with Him for eternity. This intimacy grows when we talk to Him, walk with Him, listen to Him, study His word and prayerfully do it.
Here are a couple of ways that you can pray:
Privately - Pray regularly. Being dependent on Him brings amazing relief. After all, He is the Lord of all and as kids know, “He’s got the whole world in His hands!” He has great works planned for us individually and we have the power to do them (Philippians 4:13) and He will prosper us in the process (Jeremiah 29:11).
- The Summer Prayer Encounter
, July 14 (4:30-5:30pm). Fast in the 24 hours leading up to the Encounter, then come together to praise the Lord, pray, then break your fast afterwards with your friends. We will praise the Lord, confess our sins and burdens, and make our prayer requests to God. Paul notes “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). We will have time to pray for ourselves, our church, the pastor search process, elders, and staff.
May our praises and our prayers be a pleasing fragrance to the Lord!