I Will Be Faithful

I imagine moving my #4 sable brush on the paper, imparting a blush of bright pink with dark, very vivid red peeking under the tightly-closed petals. The peony buds, perfect rounds of loveliness – they bring joy and inspiration to my heart in this season of painful hoping and waiting. I think about painting them, and of the already open blooms in the darkest of reds — maroon is what many people would call it, but in my palette, that would be Alizarin Crimson — and my oft-tested love and faith are somewhat soothed.

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I think of gliding my brush, anticipating the buds to take form, the red reminding me of my love for the Lord Jesus Christ that I had just renewed recently amid another hurt, another reason to slump on the ground, weak and defeated. But as I looked, and looked again, at the black mass carpeting the floor beside the bed that were my fallen hairs, I steeled my heart and declared – “I will be faithful to You! I will stick and continue with You. My strong faith in You must work on my favor” – as if my heart wasn’t near fainting and being discouraged beyond hope.

But I couldn’t allow my heart to be discouraged beyond hope.

Those traces of reds, they remind me of my wounded heart in my hand, but still wholly proffered to my Lord and Savior. I will give it to Him over and over, no matter how battered, no matter how much it’s hurting, no matter how much it’s been tried and tested.

Would the Savior that bled on the cross to make me whole break my heart? My spirit? Would He wound my hopeful and faithful heart with His silence as to my healing and deliverance from my sickness and suffering? Would He deeply hurt me by just looking on while the devil does its pleasure on me?

Would my Shepherd who promised many wonderful things in His Word allow me to be wounded like this?

Whatever is in His heart, I am not deserting Him. There’s no other place to go.

He asked Peter and the other disciples if they would also go as like the many who were offended by Him and deserted Him.

“Will ye also go away?”

Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

To whom shall I go? To whom shall you go?

He is the way, the truth, and the life. Or have I forgotten this in the midst of my pain?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

Painting the peony blooms and buds is the only thing I can do, amid the hurt and apprehension, to remember the Savior’s love, that love that was poured out on Calvary, rivulets of crimson that flowed from countless wounds and hands and feet where thick nails were driven through. I cannot for now rise up and proclaim a renewed battle against the rulers of the darkness of this age with all might and power that I don’t possess. I can only be still, and know that He is God. I can only let myself be carried in His big, capable hands until all these things have come to pass.

And I will be faithful throughout.

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White and Fragrant

I painted a series of magnolia flowers a while back and I was just in awe of their beauty. The petals are pure white inside, and outside, it could be hot pink or magenta. All the time that I was painting each delicate petal, I was thinking of Philippians 4:5:

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

My original gardenia painting in watercolor on 12" x 16" Hahnemuhle 100% cotton, 140lb, 300gsm, acid-free paper. I love these gardenia flowers. It was exhausting and punishing on my back painting it, maybe that's why when someone from Toronto, Canada expressed her desire to buy it but when I quoted to her the shipping fee (about $20), I never heard from her again - I was hurt. This original painting is still available at my Rina's Art Gallery on Facebook (link at the sidebar, below "SSubscription". Price is P2000 ($40) plus shipping.

My original gardenia painting in watercolor on 12″ x 16″ Hahnemuhle 100% cotton, 140lb, 300gsm, acid-free paper. I love these gardenia flowers. It was exhausting and punishing on my back painting it. Maybe that’s why when a friend in Toronto, Canada expressed her desire to buy it but after that, I never heard from her again – I was hurt. This original painting is still available at my gallery on Facebook (link at the end of this post). Price is P2,200 ($44) plus shipping.

The magnolia is a very fragrant flower and it is this fragrance that made me think again and again about gentleness. We are counselled by Apostle Paul to make our gentleness known to all. It is like the magnolia flower giving off its fragrance for all to enjoy. It wafts into the air and whoever passes by or draws near will be rewarded with an stimulating sweet scent. I imagine our gentleness wafting to the people around us like fragrance.

When we are around people, what do they breathe in from us? Is it grace? Gentle words that minister to them? Do we leave off a pleasant fragrance in our wake? Or are people offended with our rough edges, maybe with our words that are actually thinly-veiled bragging or condescension or sarcasm?

Are we, like the Lord Jesus Christ, “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma”? (See Ephesians 5:2). That would be a good gauge on the degree of our Christlikeness or un-Christlikeness.

So, I had been studying magnolias and gardenias for watercolor painting, and I just couldn’t help thinking that what is pure and white also carries a lovely scent. In their whiteness and stark simplicity, they are both beautiful and very fragrant. What an exquisite combination! I believe God created them that way to drive home the truth that the modest and holy are the ones who give off a fragrance that is a delight and blessing to others.

The gardenia is no less than the rosal in our local Filipino dialect. When I was a young girl, there was a rosal tree at the corner of my grandmother’s house’s front yard. Every morning, the flowers bloomed and — oh, their fragrance! Like the gardenia, the sampaguita, which is the Philippine’s national flower, is also white and very fragrant. Sampaguita is one of the main varieties of jasmine. The jasmine fragrance oil is the most expensive perfume in the world! In the Philippines, the sampaguita flowers are made into small garlands and are sold in the streets by young boys and girls to be hung inside cars or Catholic altars.

White symbolizes purity, modesty, and simplicity. God wants us to be pure, modest, and simple. Ecclesiastes 9:8 says, “Let your garments always be white…” It is not primarily literal, but it’s more of washing and making the garments (or robes) white in the blood of the Lamb (see Rev. 7:14). The wearing of white robes is a metaphor of being holy. It does not solely lean on our own strivings, but that we were made holy by the blood of the Lamb. But we have a part to fulfil.

And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev. 19:8)

It’s the Lord Jesus who sanctifies us and our holiness must be manifested outwardly, in the way we speak, act, and adorn ourselves.

Shall we wear blatant vanity and pride and the latest fashion statement? Sporting the famous brands from head to toe and the purse hanging on our arm, ostentatiously displayed and flaunted? But what does Apostle Peter has to say?

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.  (1 Pet. 3:3-4)

Be clothed with humility. (From 1 Pet. 5:5)

The beauty of a gentle, quiet, and humble spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. I’d like to be all of those, for there was a time in my life, before I knew Jesus and His Word, that I was one of those who wore signature brands and flaunted them, too. When pride was my glory and vanity was my friend.

I knew it even then (and now that I am a born-again Christian, I’m ashamed even of the memory of it) that pride and vainglory don’t really bring “pure goodness” (in the truest sense of the phrase) into one’s heart, but a silent and deep wickedness. They don’t bring true joy, but in reality, they stir up guilty feelings somewhere deep down, somehow.

But it’s not only with obvious worldliness that the call to holiness becomes louder. It is also a gentle whisper, a voice calling in the wilderness of our own errant emotions, that tugs on a Christ follower’s heart. Just very recently, I had a firsthand experience of this white and fragrant theme.

I had been nursing a sad and hurting heart because of my watercolor paintings and the gallery I have set up on Facebook. I was feeling very discouraged I trudged through my days with a heavy heart. But during those days, the picture of jasmine flowers went in and out of my mind like a flashing light. So one day, I sat down at my desk and painted them.

Doing so was like a healing balm to my sorrowing heart. The study of the white jasmine flowers was actually a call for me to draw closer to purity, to holiness, to my Savior Himself. Going through that trial was sanctifying as the Lord reminded me to lay my cares at His feet, to give my burdens to Him, not only the feeling of discouragement I was going through, but also the cause of it, which was my art.

To offer back to Him whatever gift I have received from Him. This epiphany would come a few days later.

Even so, immersing my heart and mind to the painting of the jasmine flowers, and knowing deeply the reason behind it, was a cleansing process: The Lord wants us to purify our hearts and minds from whatever feelings or emotions we are harboring deep inside that affect our judgments, responses, decisions, and even our worship of and service to God.

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 7:1)

The purity of the jasmine flowers reminded me to lean in closer to God and listen to what He was saying regarding my art. And He did speak and the relief and happiness that washed over me made me want to rise up and dance!

Whatever we think, say, or do, may it be done in holiness and may it leave a sweet-smelling scent, a lovely fragrance that reaches the throne of grace.

My jasmine painting on 9" x 12" Fabriano Artistico 100% cotton, 140lb, 300gsm, acid-free paper. Price is P1,200 ($24) plus shipping.

My jasmine painting on 9″ x 12″ Fabriano Artistico 100% cotton, 140lb, 300gsm, acid-free paper. Price is P1,200 ($24) plus shipping.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil. 4:8)

To see more of my watercolor paintings, I invite you to visit Rina’s Art Gallery on Facebook. Thank you!

If you have been blessed by your visit here, I’d love for you to like Our Healing Moments on Facebook and connect with me there. To not miss any posts, I also invite you to subscribe below. Thank you!

Linking up with Sharing His BeautyTrue StoriesTell His StoryWise WomenCoffee for Your HeartFaith Filled Friday.

Journey with Jesus,