After serving together on women’s retreat committee, some friends and I emerged as friends. This connection has stood the test of time and we keep in touch mainly through social media and texting. At least once or twice a year, we try to gather together for a weekend of food, fun, and fellowship. We play board games or cards and eat a lot of junk food. Copious amounts of coffee are also required!
One weekend, a friend introduced a new activity that has become a regular part of our weekend. She supplied craft items for a painting project. We each got a blank canvas and there was an abundance of paints and brushes to use. There were no rules about what to paint and each person created their own “masterpiece.”
I am generally NOT artistic by nature and very much a perfectionist, so I reviewed examples she supplied for inspiration. I have always been drawn to trees and the image of a single bird on a limb caught my eye and became my inspiration.
Since that weekend, this picture has been on a shelf in my office and I still like looking at it – but not because the quality is good (it’s amateurish at best). I am drawn to the messages it portrays – at least to me.
Darkness fades behind the bird as she faces the light. The bird is standing, almost ready to take flight. It reminds me of hope dawning as dark times come to an end.
I’m no stranger to seasons of despair – as no doubt, neither are you. None of us gets spared from times when things don’t make sense or life changes seem too difficult to endure.
Physical illnesses range from small inconveniences to major terminal diagnoses. Financially, our bank accounts may reel from stock market volatility or we may just have to cover a small unexpected bill. Relationships involve humans so there are myriads of ways we face disappointment or disillusionment. The emotional affects from any of these or other circumstances took a toll.
Our experiences may be different, but the darkness produces similar and varying feelings of hopelessness. This tends to worsen when the end date is unknown or uncertain.
Isaiah prophesied of one to come who would bring light into the darkness of the world. Matthew’s gospel connects Jesus to that light. “the people who lived in the dark have seen a great light, and a light has come upon those who lived in the region and in shadow of death. From that time Jesus began to announce, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!”” (Matthew 4:16–17, CEB) John’s gospel agrees and calls Jesus “the true light” (John 1:9) Later in John’s account, Jesus identifies his mission as “a light into the world so that everyone who believes in me won’t live in darkness.” (John 12:46, CEB).
Paul continues the theme with a common term for Christians as children of the light. For believers, this light brings not only salvation but hope – a message reminiscent of Isaiah’s proclamation. “Though darkness covers the earth and gloom the nations, the LORD will shine upon you; God’s glory will appear over you.” (Isaiah 60:2, CEB) In Isaiah’s next chapter, he offers hope in a passage Jesus later referenced to identify him as the bringer of hope (Luke 4:18).
“The LORD God’s spirit is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release for captives, and liberation for prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and a day of vindication for our God, to comfort all who mourn, to provide for Zion’s mourners, to give them a crown in place of ashes, oil of joy in place of mourning, a mantle of praise in place of discouragement. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, planted by the LORD to glorify himself. They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore formerly deserted places; they will renew ruined cities, places deserted in generations past.” (Isaiah 61:1–4, CEB)
Whatever season of darkness you may be in – look for God to bring light into your situation. In his care, you can stand up and get ready to fly again!
Just for fun, I have included a picture of our group – each with their own painting.