God has tested me. I think I passed, but it certainly wasn't with distinction. In fact, I may have just scraped through. What was the test? He asked me for a painting again. He knew what He wanted, and He wasn't going to let me wriggle out from it. Actually, I didn't want to wriggle out of it so much as I didn't want to do it. Why? Because I thought it was too hard. I thought I didn't have the skills to do it well. And therein lies a hint about why I almost flunked the test. I forgot something — something I should have known, something I have told others many times.
It is this:
GOD ONLY ASKS US TO DO SOMETHING HE HAS ALREADY PREPARED US TO DO.
HE DOES NOT SET US UP TO FAIL!
Oops! I confess my faith has more up and down waves than the seismograph at Kaikoura. Shaky!
GOD ASKED - NICELY, TOO!
How did I come to "get" this painting request? Simple - this painting began as a clematis. If you can figure out a link between a clematis and Elon Moreh, a mountain deep in Israel proper, you're doing better than me. I was sitting at home flicking through my photo folders in search of a photograph I had taken last year: a clematis thicket with some gorgeous pink flowers catching the late afternoon light. I was going to do something in the style of "Peep Show": detailed, precise botanical images as the focus, background nice and loose and dark to highlight the flowers and a few of the leaves. A big painting. I was excited about it.
Except I couldn't find it! It wasn't where I expected to find it, and it wasn't in any other 'sensible' place either. I was in the process of getting a bit grumpy about that when I came across a photo I had taken in Israel in 2015. Now this photo was out of place. It should have been with all the other Israel photos, but here it was popping up in a New Zealand flora folder. No time to question though, because I'm getting hit with the goosebumps. I should say "goose lumps" because I was covered from top to bottom with this big tingling sensation, really intense, and it won't stop! For more than a minute, I'm sitting there saying, "Whoa, hang on, Lord, is that you? You want me to paint this one? Surely not." (inference: God got it wrong! Oops again!!!)
I got up and walked away from my computer, getting the image out of sight for a bit. I tell Joanne about it. Wham - I can't tell her without getting more goosebumps. This is odd, still intense, almost feel static discharging. I go back and look at the image, trying to get a feel for what God wants me to do with it. Normally, I wouldn't touch something like this picture - as I said before, I consider it just too, too difficult. God isn't taking any notice of me and my silly little shakes of confidence though; He wants me to paint this picture. For the next several hours, I get hit repeatedly with the goosebumps as He refuses to let me back out, nudging me over and over to PAINT THIS PICTURE.
It's really hard to play Hide and Seek with God. He knows where you're going to hide long before you even conceived that there's a game going on. It's not fair! He goosebumped me in the glasshouse, out in the fields, whilst I was eating, and even when I was hiding in the little room! He tracked me for 10 days doing this, and didn't stop until I stood up during our Sunday gathering and told everyone that I was going to paint another picture for God.
Then He stopped.
I obeyed: I painted.
No more goosebumps.
See, I CAN learn.
I only wish He'd told me His intention for this painting, but I guess I don't have to know that. I'm sure it will be revealed in His good time. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy "WHO WALKS ON ELON MOREH?" If it touches you in some special way, pray about it and see what He reveals to you.
.... and then tell me! I'm dying to hear!