Apologies to anyone who has been trying to contact me in the last four days. I am very aware that my response to LINE messages, emails and phone calls has been sporadic at best. I am also aware that some people probably wonder whether I’m even still in the country.
So just to clarify… I’m back. And the reason for my lack of engagement with the real world in the last few days has been that I have been undertaking a rather epic and large-scale painting job of rather epic and large-scale proportions.
I’ve actually had a short summer vacation for a few days from my real job, which meant I could come and paint the huge staircase of my friends’ guesthouse. My non-real, but highly enjoyable job. Right now, I have finished all of the said artwork and cleaning, and am now in a slightly delusional, exhausted, yet happy state of satisfaction about the fact that the huge, 3 metre high staircase now looks bright and welcoming.
And now, I want to sleep for a very, very, very long time.
This job was so huge that I actually doubted whether we could finish it in the days available. First of all a bunch of us painting the whole area in block colours, and then me drawing a huge mural up the left hand side wall. But some 12 hour painting sessions later… The seemingly un-completable project is…. Complete.
Happy. Tired. Happy. Tired. Happy.
I think the happy feeling wins.
Anyway… This picture kind of sums up my last summer ‘vacation’.
The thing about painting this much, is that it also gives me good time with Jesus. Painting. Singing. Talking with Jesus. Repeat.
One of my favourite worship leaders right now is Amanda Cook. I think she just sings out and captures some really powerful truth. So I’ve been listening to one of her songs this week, and it really captures something of where the mediations of my heart are just now.
You delight in showing mercy
And mercy triumphs over judgment.
My past embraced
My sin forgiven
I’m blameless in Your sight
My history rewritten
You delight in showing mercy
And mercy triumphs over judgment.
Oh Love, great Love
Fear cannot be found in You
And there will never be a day
You’re uncertain of the ones You choose
So I will wake
And spend my days
Living for the One who has raised me up
From death to life
From wrong to right
You’re making all things beautiful
I love the truth in those words. I just love it.
That the blood of Jesus has rewritten my history and that I am free to life for Him in this abandoned place of surrender. That my purpose is found there. To awake each day and live for Him. To spend my life with Him above all things. And in worship, I come back to the reflection that worship is our most natural state of being.
In worship, in connection with Jesus, in fellowship with Holy Spirit, in the embrace of Abba, I come alive. Because I was created to be in that connection and that fellowship and that embrace forever.
It’s also reminded me of this picture that God gave me a few years ago now. And I guess in making an old staircase beautiful, there has been a simple reminder of the fulfillment of this picture in my own life. That He who has never been uncertain about me has restored and is still restoring more than I could ask or imagine.
Let me share this picture with you again.
God often speaks to me through pictures or dreams, and over three years ago now, when things were particularly tough, I had this vision in what had been a long time of prayer and worship at my piano. I had been crying out to God for restoration and hope, and as He opened the eyes of my heart to see, I really-saw these images so clearly.
I was in His white-dazzling-throne-room.
I was dressed in a simple just-as-white robe.
I was about 8 years old.
And I was happy.
So, so happy.
My Heavenly Father sat in front of me, and I just ran and danced about His throne-room with a freedom and a joy, knowing that I was loved and knowing that was more-than-enough.
Abba called me to Him.
He gently knelt down in front of me and gave me a gift.
I knew it was important-to-His-Heart.
I knew it would be important to me.
He was so happy, and so gentle, and His ‘gladness’ just radiated from Him.
He took my small hands, and He placed into them, a tiny, origami, paper bird.
The detail was intricate, the colours were pastel-perfection, and the pattern was stunning.
I knew it was a precious gift.
And I continued to dance and sing and spin in His throne-room, but twirling the little bird around with me and pretending it could fly.
Time passed in my vision.
I don’t know how much, but when the scene changed in front of me I could see that there was something wrong.
Something had shifted.
I was crying.
I was broken.
And in my hands I could see that the gift that I had been so lovingly given, was in tatters.
The little paper bird had been dropped and broken.
The colours had faded away.
Bits were missing and some were lost.
It was broken in two.
The precious gift was destroyed, and I had not kept it nor guarded it as I should.
And so I approached Abba.
Slowly and cautiously.
I was crying, and I couldn’t look at Him, but I just held out the ripped bits of paper as if they were an offering and fell to my knees at His feet.
He gently took them from me.
There was no anger on His face, but I couldn’t see that because I was staring at the ground.
And He sat in front on me, placed all of the pieces onto a small wooden table, and began to work.
Time seemed to pause.
With meticulous detail He began to painstakingly restore His tiny creation with the skill of a master-craftsman.
He carefully glued tiny-fragmented-pieces back into place.
He took a minute paintbrush to restore every stroke of the original colours.
He called to the pieces that were lost, and searched them out so that nothing was missing.
Not one piece was missing.
And He worked tirelessly, with a determined and fixed look on His face until it was complete.
It could have been minutes or hours later, because time had seemed to pause, but He turned from His worktable and called my name.
I lifted my gaze to His, and with only love and patience and kindness and mercy, Abba held out to me a perfectly restored, miniature, origami bird.
My heart just leapt with joy.
He had restored what should have been broken beyond repair.
And I stood to reach out to Him, full of thankfulness, tears running down my face.
And He leant out to me, smiling over me, overflowing with joy and happiness.
He placed the tiny, paper bird into my hands again.
But has He did, He breathed onto it.
And as His breath touched the paper, the bird changed.
It became alive.
What had been only paper and coloured paint, what had been unable to fly, transformed into a living, breathing bird, arrayed in colour so bright and vivid, and able to soar into the heights.
And the little bird flew.
And the little bird sang.
And so Papa reminded me, in the most precious way, that He not only restores, that He not only is faithful to all His promises, but that in His timings, His healing is so complete, that it goes beyond repair and into new life. That sometimes I expect restoration to come in or look a certain way, but that His plan of redemption is so much greater, and so much bigger, and so much more wonderful than I could ever ask, or imagine or comprehend. What a beautiful Father we have. He who takes the broken pieces of my heart, and He who so patiently restores them to wholeness, and then causes them to soar on the heights.
Okay. Because I know you’re all dying to see it…. Here are some pictures of the staircase. I’m not sure they really capture the scale, but it’s a good place to start.
And… Here are some other fun times from the week.