sunrisesunsetSaturday I was honored to participate in the retirement dinner of a dear friend, trusted mentor and brother in Christ. Craig Smith has served as District Executive in our area for the entire duration of my ministry. He and his wife Vicki have been a source of encouragement and wisdom throughout this journey of mine. He has always encouraged me in using my gift of art in ministry and to make sure not to overlook the other gifts as well. He was the one who took a burned out “young” pastor who was under attack aside and reminded him (me) that the position of Savior is taken, words I will never forget. He has managed to guide a very diverse district through some great and difficult times and is the kind of leader I aspire to be.

It’s probably no surprise that my participation in the evening was to do a live painting. It was first suggested that I do a live portrait of them, but I declined that. I’m not a great portrait artist to begin with and to try to do one in under a day, let alone under an hour, would have been virtually impossible, at least to the degree of excellence I would have desired for two people who have meant so much to me. (There’s a lesson there for all my creative friends, know who you are and know what you do best, theres nothing wrong with saying “I don’t think I can do that well in the time allotted, but what if we tried…”) Instead I picked a subject I have done before, but that can never be done the same way twice. It was a subject that I have always loved to do because of the amazing array of colors, but most importantly it perfectly sums up what the evening was all about.

I call it Sunrise/Sunset, because the fact of the matter is on canvas, you can’t tell one from the other. I asked which it was, a sunrise or a sunset? Then I joked that it depends which wall you hang it on, if it’s on an east wall, it’s a sunrise and a west wall makes it a sunset. In reality it is like my friend’s career. This portion of his journey has come to an end and his successor will have big shoes to fill, but in spite of the fact that it was a retirement dinner, his career goes on in other ways. He and Vicki move into a coaching role. I have no doubt that they will continue to bless, encourage and challenge people for years to come. The sun is setting on one adventure, but rising on another. This happens to us all. One door closes and another begins. My prayer is this quickly painted painting encourages them for years to come, because they certainly have encouraged me.

Who has encouraged you? How would you pay them tribute using your gift?

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