A Brilliant Work of Art With A Powerful Story

Posted: April 29, 2019 in Church Art Ministry Video
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A few days ago I posted a beautiful video for your inspiration by an artist named Jack Whitney. Well he mentioned the story behind it in the post, but did not elaborate. A few of us asked that he share the story and he obliged. The story makes the piece even more powerful. It’s a poignant reminder that God is with us even in the hardest times. I share it here with his permission.

A few of you here have encouraged me to share the story of the art’s conception and execution. It’s a bit challenging to be so transparent. But because it’s a very obvious God story and an example of how He can move through our art when we surrender to Him, here it is-

Lisa, my wife of 27 years passed from this life after a second valiant battle with cancer in Feb. 2013. The monster reared its ugly head in her body once before in 2009. She was a very tough boot camp style fitness instructor and very fit. With her conditioning, and most obviously God’s intervention, she recuperated from a complete hysterectomy and 30 days of chemo tougher than ever. The monster returned in the fall of 2012, and when the doctor recommended another wave of chemo she very quietly declined and asked if I’d support her decision to take a radical natural and supernatural defense with diet, prayer, and praise.

As she put it, “I don’t want more poison in me to fight the poison already there”. That’s just how she was and I was well aware of it. This is the same woman that insisted the nurses stop giving her morphine after the hysterectomy saying she’d rather be in physical pain than endure the hallucinations. A few days after our visit with the doctor, she and I were at a meeting where three gentlemen from India were sharing their hearts for bringing the gospel to the lost in America. They followed with an invitation for prayer specific to the topic. She and I went up along with several others. At the time only six people were aware of this new battle we were facing. As one of the gentlemen was praying for her without knowledge of the intruder, he interrupted his prayer and began repeatedly shouting “you shall not die but live to declare the works of the Lord!” This is a direct reference to Psalm 118:17. One of the six people aware of our circumstances pulled the gentleman aside after the meeting and asked him what compelled him to shout that and asked what he saw. The gentleman answered “I saw life”. When our friend told us this, my wife and I took this as a confirmation to our battle plan.

I’d been doing some contract work for Boeing at the time and the contract ended very suddenly for our team a couple weeks after we learned about the cancer. God is so very good as this allowed me to stay at her side through the entire battle. He also gathered a large company of believers to stand with us. Though we chose to hold on to what we believed, we saw her gradually weaken and a week before Christmas she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency procedure. Because it was unsuccessful, we were sent home with hospice care. Knowing God is faithful and cannot lie and knowing Jesus heals, we still held on to the words of Psalm 118 for her. We got her a hospital bed and put it in the den because she wanted to be in the thick of all household activities.

One day in January as she was sleeping in the bed, I was fighting through discouragement and exhaustion. I can’t imagine what she was enduring. I sat at the computer with my graphics tablet doodling in a painting program. Feeling somewhat betrayed, I was asking God a number of questions about the current situation. In my spirit He told me to paint His Son on the cross. This is a subject I’ve deliberately avoided as an artist. I prefer to show Him as He is in Revelation 19:11, on a white horse with the words “faithful and true” on His thigh. With no fight in me, I submitted and allowed Him to take me on a journey through the painting. As I painted in the bright red lashes on His body, I kept thinking “that’s enough,” but I knew I couldn’t stop until instructed. When I painted the face of death, I was going to give him sharp teeth and a serpent tongue, but I realized he didn’t deserve a bite or a voice.

And there you have it. The software has a feature that allows the user to record each stroke made so the animation is a time lapse recording of the journey. I presented it without sound to a couple groups and told the story. Then last year a few people in my church community added some fantastic audio.

After a couple years of getting my footing back and wrestling with it all, I believe the gentleman was correct; that Lisa would live to declare the works of the Lord. I don’t have an answer for why she died, at least not one I’m completely satisfied with. I don’t expect to get one until I stand before Jesus. But I know that her time here lives on as it is a declaration of the faithfulness and goodness of God.

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