The chill of winter at my south-Central Kentucky home and a light snowfall bringing on the evening is a perfect time to reflect not only on the wonder of the seasons of the year, but seasons of life. Like most of the mid-Western and Eastern parts of the United States, this winter has been cold and snowy; but in six months--in the heat of July--it will be hot again! In our lives, we transition back and forth between times of difficulty and ease, prosperity and austerity, grief and joy, and so on. Like the seasons of the year, the seasons of our lives cycle--and most importantly have purpose, especially for those who know the goodness of God.
King Solomon wrote perhaps the best known commentary on this in Ecclesiates 3:1-8 (NIV): "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace." The Byrds famously captured this scripture in their 1960's hit, "Turn, Turn, Turn."
Wondering about the new year and what it would bring, I started thinking about this scripture and a way to express it. I want to share this with you in case you would like to do something similar. Just remember, this is about the process of creating, and using that process to be closer to and worship our Creator. I started with a blank canvas and used pencil to lightly write Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. I intended to paint over it, so it didn't have to be neat and pretty. I just wanted the scripture itself to be the basis of the painting and be a part of it. Planning to do a snowy scene (why not?) I gave it an initial wash (background) of white with some pale pink streaks.
I recruited my teenage daughter, Emma, to participate with me on the next step. (I think it would be especially meaningful to get the whole family in on this, especially if you have young children.) Together we folded and cut out paper snowflakes. It had been so long since either of us had done this, we had a bit of trial and error--and a lot of laughter and snowflakes that completely fell apart! I then used the snowflakes we made as stencils by adhering them lightly to the dried canvas. I then painted a light blue wash on the canvas, carefully painting from the center of the snowflakes outward to avoid getting paint under the out edges of them. (Be careful not to saturate paint on your snowflakes or they will tear and stick to the canvas.)
I added a simple face of a snow person with a winter hat and scarf in the corner, and painted some line and dots detail into the snowflakes. I finished up with a swirl of winter air with the words "to every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven" painted on it.
I especially liked the last detail. The words on the air remind me that the Word of God gives me life, that it is invigorating, and everywhere!
Once I finished the painting, I meditated on this scripture, and I began to focus on the last line: "a time for war and a time for peace." As wise as Solomon was, he lived before Jesus--the Prince of Peace--and did not know the peace that Jesus brings to those who believe. Whereas for Solomon, peace was the absence of war, for Christians, peace is the contentment of having a trusting and loving relationship with God, knowing that Jesus has secured our place in heaven through his death and resurrection. Peace is secure knowledge that God is good, merciful, loving, and gracious; and that he wants each of us for his very own sons and daughters. He wants us all to have his peace, in all times, in all places, in all seasons.
It only seemed natural to title my painting, "A Time for Peace." My prayer is that you will experience the peace of God every day.