Several years ago my boss brought in a speaker to talk about dealing with change in our lives because our office was relocating to Florida. I was going through a time of loss with children leaving home and my parent’s health failing. My husband and I didn't move and said good-bye to friends and to our job. Naturally I felt sad.
Our speaker quoted from the passage, “Finally brethren whatever is true whatever is honorable whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute; if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”[i] Our speaker asked us to take some time for reflection on these thoughts.
So I took a walk on a path overlooking our city and the Pacific Ocean. I longed to really see whatever is lovely around me. Taking time to observe the lights, shadows and colors, I absorbed beauty I had overlooked in the rush of life. The images lingered in my mind. As I prayed I sensed God speaking to my heart, “Go ahead and paint to learn to see what is lovely.” I signed up for an art class and plunged into the learning process.
I discovered that my paintings reflect me, the artist, just as loveliness in nature reflects nature’s Creator. My first experience with God came when I was a girl.
In spite of my many questions and fears, I believed there must be a God, but I didn’t know how to find Him. Feelings of guilt plagued me but I couldn’t find forgiveness. Two quotes from the Bible helped. The first, “There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear.”[ii] My friend asked me why was I afraid to trust God with my life since He loved me perfectly? The second quote from the Bible told me how to find forgiveness: “Whoever believes in his heart God raised Jesus from the dead and confesses with his mouth Jesus as Lord, he shall be saved.”[iii]
I thought: Why not believe God raised Jesus from the dead? God can do anything! Then I told some people that Jesus is Lord. Over time I came to understand God's great love for me and that trusting and relying on Him always worked out well. When I did something I knew was wrong, He was always there to forgive and help me change if I just asked. If you would like to find this freedom from guilt, it is a free gift that God offers. Simply express the following thoughts to God:
Thank you for the beautiful world you have created that expresses your love for me. I acknowledge that I have fallen short of being all that you want me to be. Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for the wrong things I have done. Please forgive me and come into my life and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen