The following blog post is authored by Gretchen Volonnino, Member of PFC
The song “Canyons” for the Further Up and Further In series made me think of God’s awe inspiring beauty of the southwest. When prompted with the idea of creating an art piece for the series, I didn’t hesitate. I already knew what subject I wanted to paint! But the bigger question was, how did God want this piece to take shape? Was I going to hear the quiet cues in the busyness of life? Was God going to speak to me at all? Was I willing to truly listen? Typically, I paint purely from my heart’s emotion. This was going to be a very different type of challenge.
Soon I had red rocks and a simple bare tree on my canvas. Many ideas crossed my mind for how to develop that tree but I couldn’t figure out why it was so important in the first place. I dug into old photos I took from trips to Arizona and Nevada. Several photos had interesting, twisting trees with trunks shaped by the weather. I read up on common desert trees. The ones I captured were junipers. Were they mentioned in the bible? A quick search took me to 1 Kings 19. Wow. This was becoming personal.
Here was Elijah, a prophet, who was completely dedicated to God, and centered his whole purpose around his relationship with God, who took to the desert, running in complete fear. Jezebel wanted him dead. Hopeless, alone and exhausted, he sat under a juniper tree and begged the Lord to take his life. Instead, God sent him an angel who provided sustenance and rest. Rest. He was then sustained enough to spend forty days in the desert traveling to God’s mountain, Horeb. The way the MacArthur Bible Commentary summed up verse 11 is wonderful, “The Lord’s self-revelation to Elijah came in a faint, whispering voice. The lesson for Elijah was that Almighty God was quietly, sometimes imperceptibly, doing His work in Israel.”
I’ve certainly been in times desperate for rest and perhaps you have too. I struggled during this painting process. Every time I approached the canvas my way, without my mind and heart engaged towards God it didn’t work. None of the colors became cohesive. Mountains big and small can overwhelm us and it can be hard to hear God. But when we listen, no matter what the answer, God’s plan is always perfect. This tree became “Elijah’s Rest”. It’s also a place of rest for me. It will always remind me that God is forever working in our lives and wants us to spend intimate time with Him. My prayer is that it can become a place of rest for all of us.
It was a humbling privilege to be able to paint and share this very personal piece with you. Thank you, Lord, for giving us all unique ways of expressing your story and love for us!