“Let those who have felt this double effect of the Spirit’s teaching bear witness to the marvelous result. The Bible becomes a transformed book. It was before the best of all books, but it is now the Book of God—a chamber of disclosed mysteries—a house of many mansions, in which new doors constantly open into new apartments, massive and magnificent, God’s art galleries, museums of curious things, treasuries of celestial gems. The devout student is filled with wonder, transported with delight. Words open with new meanings until we look through them into depths and heights, breadths and lengths, that are infinite. We are looking at a firmament which was before clouded—but the clouds are parting and heavenly constellations are visible. Meanwhile the eye has become telescopic, and where before we saw a few scattered stars, and an indistinct nebulous cloud, everything is ablaze with the glories of countless and many colored lights.” – Arthur T. Pierson, Lessons in The School of Prayer
I went to an art gallery for the first time early last year at the Dallas Museum of Art. I was just amazed by the beauty of each piece. It was a special showing on French Boutiques and featured such artists work as Vincent Von Gogh, Henri Fantin-Latour, Édouard Manet, and Paul Cézanne. I’m not an art critic but you really did not need to be one in order to recognize and appreciate greatness. Their work itself made them known. It was amazing. The detail in each piece, the more you looked, the more there was to be seen. No matter how hard you starred, you couldn’t take it all in. The perfection of each piece, not one stroke seemed to be out of place. Each line was perfectly executed on top of another and side by side in a rhythm and smoothness that could only be carried out by a master of the art.
I feel the same way when I approach the bible. The depths to be seen in each verse. How the verses are placed side by side and layer upon layer. There is an underlying rhythm and smoothness behind them that is written by a Master. One verse is deep enough for an elephant to swim in and yet shallow enough for a child to wade in as Augustine once said. There is so much more to be seen and understood then what my mind can initially see. Reading the bible is like going to an art museum, each book is its own room, each verse its own picture and yet they connect with all other pictures in the room and in the other rooms that cause you to go back and forth between them in utter amazement.
We are but shadows and imitations of the Master Artist. His own work also declares his greatness and makes Him known. He needs not to say anything.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” – Psa. 19:1
You only have to look up at the night sky in a dark area to see the work of his hands. You only have to look out the window, at the abundance of trees, the birds, the gentle rabbits, the diversity of animals, the rushing rivers, the sparkling lakes, the roaring oceans, the sunsets, the mountains, the plains, the deserts even to enjoy His artistic gifts to us in such various forms. We are surrounded by evidence of His greatness, His endless creativity, His abundant giving nature pours itself out on us day after day with new mercies.
So much of what we paint and try to capture and recreate on our canvases to call our own are His originals or are inspired by His original creation. We are simply copying another artist greater than ourselves and communicating His work. Instead of saying, look at what we did, our art really declares, look at what He did as we attempt to frame a passing moment of His work and put boundaries on the infinite. A butterfly caught in midair, a child’s smile, a beautiful sunset over a translucent wave, the frailness and diversity of a boutique. Look at what He did! Just look at it! Isn’t it amazing?
How poorly even our very best Artists portray the work of His hands despite their greatest attempts. How closely they must examine and study his creation and His laws before they can even attempt it! Yet they can’t communicate it all. There is so much more to be seen and enjoyed in His living art then they can capture, but it is so awesome and so amazing we must try to copy Him no matter how feeble and limited our greatest attempts are. As part of creation, we ourselves were created to declare the glory of God as the skies declare him.
God’s works are so marvelous they must be communicated and re-communicated and preserved in some fashion because of the temporariness of such beauty in our world. Everything fades and is subject to decay before our very eyes. Every moment is new and fresh, yet every moment is passing us and becoming worn and fading away even as we look upon it or think of it and so we attempt to write it down, to draw it out, to paint it, to photograph it, to video record it, to preserve it in our longing for eternity and our opposition against death. Art is our way of preserving the best of those moments, as they were so we can continue to enjoy them in some altered form and to cheat death in some fashion and hold on to these joys for a little bit longer. A beloved portrait of a loved one long passed, a favorite painting of a childhood home, a childhood photo, a historic sculpture, how precious these works of arts become to us as time progresses.
Behind them all, God is the master Artist, who created the reality of what we now enjoy and promises a time when such fading of our joy will come to an end in a world to come where decay through sin will no longer be allowed to enter in. God is a master artist who works not just through a paintbrush, a pen, a pencil, clay, steel, code, wood, etc…bending them to his will, but through men, of all kinds, of all classes, of all ages throughout all time causing each one to be placed side by side, in just the right positions and places to carry out his will and purposes for each one individually and for all collectively. I continue to stand amazed.
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name.” Psa.96:8