Bennett Galleries – Nashville, Tennessee | October 2008
“it’s gonna be o.k.”
Think about it…
When a child skins a knee or gets their feelings hurt; when the medical tests aren’t good; when our hearts are crushed and disappointment overwhelms; when the money is short and the job is gone; when fear rolls in like a storm and anxiety hovers like a fog; when dreams die and hope seems to evaporate; when life is not going the way we thought it would…
Aren’t these the words we long to hear… and believe?
“igbok” is a fresh, provocative look at my life message – hope. Real, authentic, trustworthy and life giving hope.
Over the years I have been drawn toward a message of faith and hope, trying to convey them using everyday ordinary things in my paintings. If hope is anything, it’s accessible – just like the ordinary things of life.
Similarly, it seems most of my work flows out of ordinary conversations. Lloyd Shadrach and I have been discussing the nature of faith and hope since our friendship began in 2004, and this past summer one of those conversations birthed the idea of “igbok.”
We both began to connect this phrase to the promises of God and have come to believe that God’s promise to fragile, fearful people when life overwhelms is quite simply…”it’s gonna be o.k.”
When the rain was over and God wanted Noah to understand that He would never forsake us, He made an unbreakable promise, a covenant. And guess how He signed His name? A rainbow.
I think in those six colors arced across the heavens God is saying – “it’s gonna be o.k.”
As you contemplate these “igbok” paintings, look for God’s signature. In a few it shouts, but in most it’s simply a whisper, a subtle but sure reminder that whatever is troubling you… God is with you and makes a promise only He can keep…
The only way to know that “it’s gonna be o.k.” is to know and believe God’s promise. He made an unbreakable covenant to us that He will make all things right one day. In this life, His promises come amid the darkness where we reach out in faith.
I Will Trust
This is painted from an actual hummingbird nest that was built attached to the side of a limb. Pretty fragile. Here, suspended in darkness, he rests in God’s hands. Fear is dispelled as God’s promise emerges from the darkness. The very words of God hold the rainbow.
“Psalms” literally means “songs”. Israel’s ancient songbook is an unending well of hope.
Each phrase formed by the scrabble letters is a lyric of promise from this book. And, each of these birds is a songbird that visits my studio window throughout the day.
As they perch outside my window, a small mounted microphone brings their “psalms” of hope into my studio.
They sing on strings of the rainbow, from red to violet, resting in the care and promise of the One who made them and cares for them.
There Will Come A Day
There will come a day when the lion and the lamb will lie down together and all things will live in peace and harmony. No fear. No death. No pain.
In that place we will sit in God’s sheer, sweet goodness and it will last for eternity. That’s His promise. And it’s in His hands.
Because hummingbirds are perpetual motion, always on the go, when they rest we are taken off guard. In their stillness, the nature of resting in something is accentuated.
All of these hummingbirds sit “still” on the promise.
Each crayon hangs suspended from the heavens, given and held by the hand of God.
The Greater Story
All of us are living a story. Our lives have a beginning, middle and yes, an end.
But all of us are living in a “Greater Story”. The Greater Story is God’s story of creation, fall, redemption and recreation. This is the story in process: God created everything. Mankind fell in sin. God made a way for man to be forgiven (redeemed). God promises that one day He will recreate everything…better than it ever was… never to be disturbed…or end. This “Greater Story” is the story of hope.
I have come to use a nest with three eggs as my symbol of hope, and this painting uses that symbol to tell God’s Greater Story.
Life is given, protected and nurtured in creation.
Life is broken, our hopes dashed, our world a ruin in the fall.
In redemption God’s promise invites us to let Him put our life, our hope, back together.
In the recreation we experience life with God, as God always intended…forever.
We might say the Greater Story is Hope…Hopeless…Hopeful…Hope fully realized.
Faithful To His Promises
The variety of birds perched across this branch and the purple ribbon holding it form the colors of the rainbow. The variety reminds us that God’s promises are for everyone of every color, every nationality, every place in life.
As the birds hold the colors of the promise, we are also reminded that all of creation participates and is included in God’s great promise to one day make all things new.
Hand Of God
The rainbow flows in the fruit and the birds. The suspended lid is God’s hand which not only fills us, but fills us to overflowing. When we are filled, it is not meant to be contained, but pour out to give life, hope and encouragement to others – and through these relationships, God reminds us “it’s gonna be o.k.”.
There is beauty in the mess. Such is life. God is present when we find ourselves in the crumpled, traumatic, scrambled and painful places. He never leaves. Sometimes we can’t see His promise even though we sit in the midst of it. But stepping back, we find it was there all along.
Peace in the Promise
There’s Peace In The Promise.
This is the first piece I painted for the show and my first attempt to portray God’s promise in a rainbow, but not in a way anyone would expect. I wanted each painting to incorporate this element in a unique way.
This hummingbird rests still in the promises of God – the promise of His covenant shown in the rainbow and through His grace. The grace that brings us through “toils and snares” and the grace that “leads us home”.
Forgiveness and hope can’t be separated. And embracing God’s promise by faith – we are forgiven. Fully, freely, completely. The stain of guilt washed white as fresh linen. The weight of regret lifted.
No matter what I’ve done or will do, faith in God’s promise secures my forever forgiveness. That is overwhelming, hard to grasp, difficult to comprehend …but true. Shame, embarrassment, guilt…gone, gone, gone. How stark a contrast is my darkness… to God’s forgiveness.
Here are the symbols of the promise and the resurrection. The resurrection fulfills the promise. These two things combine to give us hope. Real genuine, life giving hope. Hope “drops down” because this kind of hope only comes from above.
Now And Forever
The pieces in this painting are all fragile and temporary. Living amidst such fragility could create a fearful way of living. God’s promise seen in the rainbow here is what allows us to see beyond the “now” and rest in the peace of our “forever” hope.
Have No Fear
If God is our foundation, then even when things don’t make sense, we don’t have to fear. The foundation will stand and the “stack” will not crumble beneath us. These hummingbirds can be still and rest in this “rainbow” of God’s promise.
The sparrow is the most common and lowly of birds. it’s every man, all of us. In the darkness she could be fearful, but she is not. Instead, she is resting on the cross. The cross secures for all of us every promise of God.
From red to violet, the rainbow of words speak of the nature and characteristics of God’s promises.
My youngest daughter, Lily, painted this rainbow and “hope”. It’s a childlike image and it speaks volumes about the nature of hope. It is pure and simple, clean and bright, and makes us smile. No need for much explanation and interpretation here.
If you are familiar with this hymn you know that it is written by a man (Horation Spafford) who was sailing on a sea of sorrow. His wife and four daughters were crossing the Atlantic when their ship was struck and sank in 12 minutes. His wife wired a few days later, “Saved alone”.
Spafford sailed across those same waters to meet his wife and penned these words.
It cuts to the essence of being content in good and bad, the difficult and easy, when we have and have not.
The rainbow in this painting connects the “have not/ empty bowl” to the “have/full bowl”.