Humility in Art

Well, God has called me to humility once again. On a Sunday morning when I was dreaming up a “fantastic” essay about God that “could not wait”, I stopped dead in my tracks. I had realized, with the Spirit’s help, that I was committing idolatry, even as I wrote about God. Why, He reasoned with me, was I putting aside my relationship with God to write about my idea of God? Had I asked Him what He thought about this piece? Had I checked with scripture to make sure I was correct? No. While I had a real, honest-to-god God sitting beside me, I had ceased talking to or looking at Him. I was instead focusing all the energy of my heart on the ideas that had about Him. And so I had put my own mind before God, and slipped into worshiping myself – one of the most dangerous idols of all. Adding to that shame was the realization that while I was daydreaming, all my flesh-and-blood duties to my family were being ignored.

As I spoke about in “God with a Regular Day Job” parts 1 and 2, we as Christians serve a God that is peculiarly inclined to labor. His own Son, possessing all the power and Glory of God in human form, worked as a manual laborer for 30 years. After those 30 years, He made profound and highly intelligent speeches — punctuated by the most degrading of work. He touched lepers, washed feet, and held emotional communion with homeless prostitutes and publicly naked mentally ill persons. He was touched by people with rotting skin, STD’s, bleeding disorders, and every filthy disease you can think of (and did not shrink away from the people who had them). And, of course, in the end, He died a humiliating and disgusting death, characterized by nails, thorns, a blindfold, vinegar, chains, and lead-tipped whips… Even a list of the instruments used gives me a shudder. With this kind of example in mind, I feel that artistic expression, though important to me, cannot replace genuine God-to-Person prayer; also, it should not be given a place higher than laundry, packed lunches, and schoolwork, because all work done for God is to His glory, especially when it is humble and done for other people.

God Bless you, and have a good weekend.
– Morgan Hart

Related Scriptures:
1 Corinthians 13:1
Mark 6:3

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Love Letters to God

Sometimes I write love letters to God. They’re intensely personal, so much so that I often have to stop halfway and go play Candy Crush or something… I don’t know where the exact line of how much emotion I can handle lies, but I’ve definitely hit it a few times. This time, I decided to allow others to read.

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Jesus, my Lord, it makes me so happy to think that someday we’ll read this together in Your Presence in Heaven. I.LOVE.YOU.SO.MUCH.

I cannot believe how accepting and uncondemning You have been to me; how You work all the things in me, good and bad, to the greater good; how You walk with me, and continuously teach me, but only when the time is right to learn it; how You cover my weaker judgement with Your love, and my sins with Your suffering… Jesus, it is crystal clear that You died for me. I cannot imagine the kind of fear and claustrophobia of having instruments of torture pierce my body, violating my space and rejecting my personhood. I see nails, Lord, but You knew them intimately.

Lord Jesus, bless everyone who reads this blog, and bless the people who find it. I don’t deserve any fame, Lord Jesus, but please, allow these words to let people who are hurting find their way to greater intimacy with YOU. Let it bring in the people who need most to hear it, when they need to hear it.

God, there’s a lot I don’t understand about life, and a lot I’m still angry about — even at You… But I think a day is coming when I’ll sit beside You with a warm blanket around us both, and gently touch the nail holes in Your hands, and not give a dang about anything that happened before You.

Amen.

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For those looking for more information on becoming a Christian, I recommend peacewithgod.net.

For those without access to a Bible, I recommend Biblegateway.com, a free site with multiple online translations.

Prayer From a Stryker Frame

Lately I’ve had this poem in my head, and I thought I should definitely share it. It was written by E. Margaret Clarkson, a woman who lived with debilitating pain through much of her life. I find it extremely encouraging during times of physical pain.

A Stryker Frame was a kind of hospital bed designed to keep a person completely immobile. It was also made where it could be rotated 360°. Clarkson was awaiting surgery while she was in such a frame, some time before 1975.

I tried to seek permission to publish this work, but as the author died in 2008, and I found it in an out-of-print book, I have no idea who owns the work.

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Prayer From A Stryker Frame

Lord, I lie here,
Strapped down, motionless, almost insensible,
Skewered to this strange board
By the cruel, incredible pain;
Unable to move hand, foot, or head
Because of pain’s intensity
And the exigencies of the Stryker.
Pain racks my body through and through;
I lie on a bed of pointed, red-hot nails, Invisible forces pressing, pressing me down
Harder, harder into them…
I scarcely knew such pain could be.

Once You lay on a bed of coals,
Spiked to a stake by pain
Far beyond anything I experience now
Or can possibly imagine.
They lifted You up
Till the nails must have seared Your very soul,
Tearing Your body with the awful thud
Of a cross dumped roughly deep in a pit,
And You impaled upon it.

I lie here of my own necessity,
Hoping to be made well in time
By mystery of surgery;
Willing to be purified by pain
For my own advantage.
You hung there
Out of pure love,
Willing to be crucified, to die
For my sake;
Hoping to gain nothing for Yourself
But Heaven for me. Your anguished cry, “Forsaken!”
Wrung from parched, sinless lips,
Goes echoing down the ages; finds me here
And meets my need.
No “Why?” torments my fevered brain today
For I am not alone:
You answered all the questions
Of tortured human hearts
Once and for all. Your risen life
Within, around, above, beneath,
Supports me
In my pain,
And in Your peace I rest. They turn me over now. Circulation
And other physical requirements dictate
This painful thrust
Three times each day.

Here I lie, prostrate,
Throbbing, rigid,
Face to the dust,
Humble before Your feet.

Face to the dust, I worship You, my Lord,
In this strange, love-lit sanctuary,
Bowed by compulsion, true,
But also by new love,
Freshly born of pain,
Adoring You in wonder and in awe
Who for my sake

 Hung on Your cross.
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Relevant Scriptures:
Isaiah 53:3 (which is talking about Jesus)
For those who want to learn more about Christianity or wish to speak to a live counselor, I recommend peacewithgod.net.