I found this painting at a eccentric little shop in Northeast Iowa. I barely cared what the price tag was, which is unusual for me - I just fell in love with it at first sight. It's an old paint-by-number picture that an old man rescued from a flea market, then painted and framed himself. I loved the colors, I loved the story, and even more, I loved that it reminded me of the Dawn Treader from Narnia. A picture of adventure on the high seas for my little man's nursery!
I stare at this picture a lot when I am feeding and snuggling Will. It's right in my line of sight from our rocking chair. At first the picture was endearing, but now the picture seems meaningful...providential, even. Let's see if I can explain...
1. Before Will was born, an acquaintance told Mark that he felt like the Lord might be saying that there would be "storms" ahead for our family. He said that the Lord wanted to remind us that no matter how intense, we needn't be afraid because God was with us.
2. Later, after Will was born, our sweet pastor came to pay us a visit in the NICU. He told us about how the Lord woke him up at 4AM that morning with two passages on his heart. One, from Mark 4 where Jesus calms the storm, and two, from Mark 6 where Jesus walks on water. He shared that in both stories, Jesus sees his disciples struggling against the storm, straining at their oars, but then later, He offers help and wisdom and tells them to not be afraid. Things were hard at first, but then the Lord's power came through after the struggling.
3. A few days ago, we were giving one of our dear friends a quick tour of our home. We stopped at the nursery, I bragged shamelessly about the cute picture of the ship. :) Our friend said it reminded him of the quote by William G.T. Shedd (an old Presbyterian pastor), "A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
I am sensing the Lord bring some sort of connection between these three things. We have been living in a storm lately, we have been struggling, we have been afraid. We continue to find ourselves in the middle of tossing and turning waves. Perhaps we weren't meant to be in a safe harbor. Maybe the Lord's power will come through after some of this struggling. Maybe the Lord's strength will shine through more brightly in the midst of our great need for Him.
The Christian life isn't meant to be lived in a safe harbor. We weren't intended to float in smooth-as-glass water. Instead, like our little paint-by-number picture, we were meant to have our sails unfurled, filled with wind, tossing and turning and buoyant a midst the white-capped waves. We, by the Lord's power and provision, can weather the storms, stay afloat and go on adventures in the high seas. He is with us, so we needn't be afraid.
When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my Anchor holds within the veil. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.