Late in 2014 a friend asked if I had a word for the upcoming year. Right away I knew it to be “Ponder.” This is something The Lord has been laying on my heart, calling me to invest more time in doing: Pondering what He’s teaching me, pondering His Word more deeply, pondering how all this relates to my life right now… And yet, here it is the end of January – a month that has flown by, packed full of activities… I can’t say I’ve spent much more time doing this than I normally would. So when asked to create a page highlighting my word of the year I made it a busy one, with empty pots at the bottom. Pots that bring to mind the potential for much growth, but so far…
Then this morning in my quiet time I was reading in Matthew 9:13 where The Lord tells the Pharisees who are questioning him, “Go and learn what this means…” and then he quotes Hosea 6:6. Now that verse caught my attention because I thought “Go and learn what this means…” is like another way of saying “take time to ponder this.” But when I went to Hosea and read the quote in context it took my breath away, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Here The Lord clearly states what He desires ~ steadfast love, and to be known. Am I living my life in a way that honors His desires? Not just doing things for Him, but taking time to really know Him even more?
Earlier in this passage we see Him calling Matthew, inviting him to “Follow me.” As a tax collector I bet Matthew’s life was super busy and his schedule incredibly full. He couldn’t just squeeze Jesus in. He had to be intentional, to totally change his life to respond to this invitation! And he did! I can only imagine how eternally thankful he is he did so! So I’m noting for the ones willing to step out of ordinary life, to make a radical change to be with Jesus, he offers the invitation “Follow Me.” For those focused on other things He says, “Go and learn what this means…”
So as I created the cover for my latest art journal (which is a converted cookbook coated in gesso with every three pages glued together) I created a texture that reminded me of those first fishermen by the sea who left their nets and life as they’d known it to follow Jesus (I pressed torn pieces of gauze into the wet gesso, then covered that with mod podge, painted with acrylics, and the sand texture came from coarse texture medium mixed with a light tan paint, then lightly applied). I put on the front cover Jesus’ invitation, “Follow Me” then put on the back what He said to the Pharisees, “Go and learn what this means…” along with Hosea 6:6.
What sweet time I had actively pondering this verse as I created my cover – though I must say, making the cover didn’t come easily. Many times throughout the process it really looked like a mess! And I wasn’t sure what to do. It took a number of attempts to get the lettering the way I wanted it. In fact that sand look, originally was me applying the texture because when I tried to paint letters on the gauze that turned out horrible! Then I painted the letters on top of the thickly applied coarse texture medium and well, that just didn’t look right so I used an old credit card to scrape that off which resulted in the “sandy” appearance that I liked!
Now I could’ve been super frustrated but what a difference it makes if you keep looking at things that don’t work as opportunities to discover something new. Worse case scenario you can always paint over the whole thing! ;0) Did I ever learn a ton experimenting with new techniques!
But the best benefit of all wasn’t the art, wasn’t the outcome, but what happened inside as I creatively meditated on Jesus’ words! I find myself asking, “Lord, what do I need to leave behind so I can respond to your invitation to follow you in pondering?” What radical life change may be needed to make this happen?
I’m face to face with the reality just trying to add it in isn’t working. So I’m praying through my schedule… Because I so want those pots full of growth and all the goodness The Lord wants to bless me with! And I so want to do what The Lord desires ~ to keep growing in knowing Him even more!
And the crazy thing is through my hearing loss and being now limited to listening just about 4 hours a day, The Lord is carving out that time – but I’ve been resisting those boundaries, instead overdoing it until my head feels like it’s about to explode. I wish I could just rewrite my schedule and that’s that! But I expect there are underlying issues that need to be dealt with and growth that needs to happen inside before I’m able to fully do this. So it’s good to remember when I fail to follow Jesus in taking time to ponder and realize I’ve blown it, now I know what I can do that will hopefully help me respond more readily the next time. Go and learn what this means: For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. And yes, that is a call to ponder… and as I do my prayer is it results in even more pondering “with Jesus” ~ bringing even more delight to both of us!