About six months ago, I was looking for a verse to paint on canvas for some very dear friends who were moving up to northern California. I felt very drawn to this verse in Hosea, but it just wasn't right for the gift I was making and I ended up using Psalm 31:14-15 for their present. Ever since then, I have wanted to paint something with this verse. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to paint and I couldn't really express why I was drawn to this verse, but something about it just spoke deeply to my heart.
This past Sunday, my book club got together for an off-shoot get-together we're calling Art Society. Basically a time to get together and paint/draw/sketch/be artistic every month or so. I also invited my best friend and we met at my house on a lovely cold rainy day. We each had our own projects and I decided to finally attempt this Hosea verse. I knew I wanted it to be reminiscent of rain, but wasn't sure how to go about it. I typically like to paint landscapes and so the idea of doing something abstract was intimidating and definitely out of my comfort zone. I decided to read a small booklet that came with my watercolor paint set and read about a technique where you sprinkle salt onto damp watercolors and it absorbs some of the water and makes a cool look - it worked perfectly for reproducing the look of raindrops!
Two days ago, one of my Art Society friends asked me what this verse meant and at first I just wanted to say that I didn't know except that it spoke to my heart. But I decided to look up the whole verse and this is what I found:
“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” ~ Hosea 6:3 (NIV)
I really liked what the whole verse had to say but I like it even better in The Message translation:
“We’re ready to study God, eager for God-knowledge. As sure as dawn breaks, so sure is his daily arrival. He comes as rain comes, as spring rain refreshing the ground.” ~ Hosea 6:3 (MSG)
Immediately I was struck by the idea that this verse sums up much of what I've been going through these past years - seeking God and His wisdom and finding that He was there all along, full of grace and ready to pour into my life the refreshing rain of His love. And what a God-thing that I finally painted this on the day it started raining!
“Wherever Jesus may lead us, He goes before us. If we know not where we go, we know with whom we go. With such a companion, who will dread the perils of the road? The journey may be long, but His everlasting arms will carry us to the end. The presence of Jesus is the assurance of eternal salvation, because He lives, we shall live also.”
~ Charles Spurgeon
Thursday, I spent the afternoon with my mom for our monthly chiropractor appointments and her monthly massage. We always spend lots of time talking since we have to drive a fair distance and we ended up in some deep discussion about faith, prison, Bill Cosby, the Bible, feeling convicted about things, rain, house issues, grief, being hurt...pretty much everything. At the end of our conversation we were both crying and I thanked my mom for always being such a strong encouragement, support and blessing in my life and for being such a good example of what it means to depend daily on God. She had so much wisdom for me and reminded me that this experience, like life, is a journey and the most important part is to keep trusting God and drawing closer to Him.
“It’s good to talk about things that make you feel uncomfortable. Getting them out gives you a lot of freedom. It allows you to move around inside your life and get comfortable.” ~ Robin Jones Gunn
I have a lot of things I'm still processing. Fears about comparing my experiences to others and finding that mine aren't "enough" or that my experience of spiritual abuse wasn't "that bad." But isn't any experience of abuse bad simply because it is abuse? It can seem easier to hide what happened and not talk about it because it's uncomfortable, it means being vulnerable, it means exposing yourself to the opinions of others and allowing yourself to be hurt again. But unless you work through those things, unless you talk about what happened, unless you take the time to give it to God and allow yourself to heal with His help then nothing will ever get better. Everything will eventually come out, nothing stays hidden forever, and isn't it better to choose to go through the process rather than be suddenly forced to do so because you can no longer keep it hidden?
I'm still struggling with that. As my mom said, I'm going through the grief process. For the most part, the anger is gone. The fierce desire to know the truth. The need to be upset and express that. I'm starting to feel more recently the sense of loss and hurt - I guess the deep emotional effect of everything that happened. The need to know what God's Word said was a strong motivator and it carried me through the past year or so and that has been a very good thing.
“It’s the hard things that God really uses. The things we hate going through, the things that push us to our limits. When we look back, we may never want to go through the pain again, but we’re grateful for the results.” ~ Jeri Odell
I am so incredibly grateful for the many ways God has poured His rain (or His reign? ;) into my life and while I'm certainly glad to not have to experience this again, I am glad that God brought me through this time for this reason. I would not trade for anything in the world the deep peace and encouragement and love I feel for the Bible and for God because of this experience. I can actually say I am thankful I went through it because this result was worth it. This verse almost perfectly captures what I've felt:
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.” ~ Jeremiah 15:16
God is so good. Even when we don't deserve it. Not because we do deserve it. God is good because He is love and because He is God. I am confident of one thing - God loves me and I love Him. I mess up, I'm broken, I've been hurt and I've been the one who hurt others, I will fail often, I will succeed sometimes, but through it all God is present, He is able, He is dependable, He loves us, oh how very much He loves us. And I am grateful.
“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” ~ 2 Peter 3:18
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for loving me even though I am quite unlovable. Thank You for allowing me the opportunity to go through this difficult experience so that I could come to grow in the grace and knowledge of Your Son Jesus. Thank You for the gift of Your Son. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Thank You for coming to me like rain - when I felt parched and dry and empty. Thank You for filling my mind and my heart with the glad joy of Your love for me. Thank You for drenching me in Your Word and for all the ways You've shown us again and again and again how much You love us and want to be in relationship with us. Help me to always seek You, help me to continue to grow in grace and knowledge, help me in this lifelong process of getting to know and love You. Thank You for loving me. I love you too. Amen.