Last Sunday evening, June 29, my church, Hillsboro Vineyard Church, had a worship service. Jessica, our worship leader asked me about three weeks before if I wanted to worship paint. I said I would pray about it. Then I got an idea for a picture, but it seemed too simple, and I didn’t want it to be trite. I didn’t get any other ideas, so I tried to come up with a composition for it. But I just wasn’t getting it, even after hours of trying.
While at the Creative Church Conference in Idaho, Jessica, our worship leader, and I texted back and forth about it. She said I should listen to the song, “I’m a Lover of Your Presence” by Bryan and Katie Torwalt. It’s an incredible song if you haven’t heard it. Here’s the Youtube link:
During one session at the conference, we paired up with someone we didn’t know to ask God for a visual word for the other person, a woman gave me a a sketch of Jesus looking into my eyes and His hands were on my cheeks. My mouth dropped open. I took it as another confirmation. When I got home, I listened to the rest of the music Jessica chose for worship, and worshiped…. Now the creativity was starting to flow.
A few days later, my good friend Anneli invited me to a prayer and praise time at her church. We were invited to make art at tables during worship. So I jumped in with my travel paints and a little piece of watercolor paper to pursue the worship painting. The results? The image was better, but still not quite right. The next morning, the basic plan came together. It is shown in the second image below.
To prepare for the full size painting, I glued a piece of watercolor paper to a birch board with book-binding glue. After it dried, I primed it and painted a light, quick abstract background. Then I made a light freehand sketch of the idea with pencil.
Sunday evening arrived. The music was excellent and worshipful. The Spirit in the room was celebratory. After the music began, I started to paint, but my brushes just wouldn’t do what I thought they should, so I dipped my finger in some paint,. Then I painted more with my fingers, even using both hands, faster and faster. It was as if I were trying to keep up with the Spirit. I turned and saw two young dancers spontaneously and elegantly dancing in praise. Joy was felt in the room and others started dancing while singing. I don’t know if you have experienced something like that, but it has not been my usual experience.
As soon as I started painting, Judy felt compelled to write and left the room. When she came back, the painting was nearly done. She placed what she wrote on a table close to where I was. The words she wrote echo the message of the image. Here is the first paragraph:
“Before I formed you – I knew you. I created you. You were in my heart and mind before there was time. I created you in my image. When others ask, “Who do you take after?” – I say to you, You take after me – your Father. You are equipped with every tool and strength to do and be all I intended. You are my heart. You are not in my heart – you are not a piece of my heart. You my child are the very beat of my heart. I formed you for my pleasure – I formed you with the deep longing that you would find pleasure in me, as I have found in you.”
Immediately after the service, as I was beginning to read Judy’s words, Scott came up and asked, “Do you know that verse in Jeremiah 1 that says “Before I formed you – I knew you.”? and He quoted the first line I was reading on Judy’s paper.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Ephesians 2:10 NLT
I am grateful I had that kind of shared worship experience. It reminds me that God truly loves each one of us, and all of us. Each person coming to worship is just as much a part of the collective worship as the person up front. We are all participants and all receivers of His joy if we want to be. There is no one in the audience but God, an audience of One.
small painted sketch idea for worship painting