Notice the green mark on the left. Accidental paint splotch or the beginning of some enhancing border? We will see…. that is for a later time.
If you’ve read any of my other Bible Art Journaling posts, you know word studies are meaningful to me. This time I got caught up in the story. I’ve read about Jesus’ journey to the cross many times in the four gospels. This time, in John 18, I found myself focusing on the words and meaning like I normally do, taking in the identity of Jesus that was the cause of the accusations. I made the Celtic knot border with spaces for the words of Jesus’ identity that was being argued.
Then came Chapter 19. Then the questions relating to my own life circumstances and relationships….
At first, I found myself relating to Pilate in the story. I felt compassion for Pilate’s “no-win” situation, the pressure of the political climate he was in with Rome and the religious leaders, how he questioned, “What is truth?” and how he was torn to have a man crucified that he found guiltless. Also, I imagine the distress in his soul as he stood face to face, eye to eye with Jesus.
My thoughts then went back to the previous chapter where Peter denies Jesus, and the disciples were scattering. Fear, disappointment, questioning. Clearly, this is not how they saw things playing out in their life or the life of their Messiah. I consider their presuppositions about Jesus. I wonder about my own. I have had presuppositions about what God is doing, and have been disappointed and confused. I have been comfortable with the knowing Jesus is King, the Truth, Son of God, but not really embracing the suffering, and death. In reading the crucifixion story, I must remind myself that for the disciples, and for Jesus, it is pre-resurrection and ascension. It is a point of desolation.
It coincides with my own desolation. One of doubting if I heard God correctly in a situation, one of doubting God, of dealing with loss. Times like that I am tempted to numb the pain by watching an extraordinary amount of British television while drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate, doodling like crazy, and hope I eventually learn to accept the unacceptable. This time is different. I am intentionally pressing in to God, facing the pain, making time to enter His quiet presence, a place of not knowing, risking finding nothingness. It is during that time, I decide to paint in my Bible. Up until now, I have hesitated to paint in it or cover any words. Now it was an act of courage, faith in the process of not knowing the outcome, and trusting God that I couldn’t mess it up. Instinctively I sensed it was part of my healing process.
After I had done the Celtic knot and lettering in the middle, I brushed a thin coat of matte medium on both pages and let them thoroughly dry. Then I cut two strips of brown painted paper and glued them on with matte medium. I wrote the words in the margin in pencil and then went over them with Pitt a black pen. Then I spattered Quinacridone Crimson fluid acrylic paint on the page, and spritzed it in a few spots with a mister filled with water.
It was a point of no return, and of freedom for me. It reflects the pressing into God, taking time to ask God the hard questions, get angry, grieve, wait. I asked God, “What do you want from me? I waited. I chose to worship, singing like a bird in the dark. Awhile later, I sensed God speaking to my heart, ” Be with Me, in Me, to such a degree that no matter what happens, I am enough. And because I am enough, and I am in you, you are enough.” Nothing is impossible with God.
Jesus asks me to take up my cross and follow Him. To me that means death to self. Death to presupposing upon Jesus, while still hoping and clinging to Him, not turning away, but trusting that all things really do work together for good to those who love God. Following and trusting that life follows death, and that resurrection is just around the corner.