Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Inspirational Verses Cards

I'm so happy to share my most recent card pack, made from four original paintings! 

They are among the first verses that ever inspired me in my faith and have become anchoring mantras in my own life. The ideas of their formation are below- I hope they can inspire you too! (Head to my shop to see these cards and more.)
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others." -Matthew 5:4-16

This verse informed so much of my initial thoughts about dedicating my life to walking with Jesus- using Him, and not myself or anyone else- as my best example for love in action. Before I was a believer I was skeptical of Christians and of faith in general, and of course I now observe this skepticism in others (which is humbling, because it took so long for it to be sapped out of me): why do we need God to understand love or to be a light in this world?

It was this verse (and many other verses about light) that informed what it truly means to love others as deeply as God loves the world, and to be Christian at all: not that I would call myself anything, but that I would be a certain way, with a certain, humble light, that comes distinctly from the Lord and not myself. 

We are called to place others before ourselves, to love people more than money, comfort, or the things of the world; to prioritize those among us who need to feel God's love even before our own desires; to truly be, through intentional deeds and sacrificial actions (not just fluffy talk) the light of the world.

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." -Hebrews 6:19

Part of my own personal need for God came when I was ready to stop denying my deep need for hope. I always thought of hope as foolish, naive, unnecessary- something logical, emotionally-sound people didn't need. I had long held the nontheistic view that abandoning hope was actually the best option for us because if we did this, we would finally be okay with transient nature of life, and we could only then be truly present. If we grasped onto hope, we were just being escapist of situations we didn't want to be in. 

But then I started to realize something: that even if I denied it (which I did for a very long time), hope seemed placed within me; it was there whether I believed I had a place for it or not. I tried to believe that hope should be abandoned, but whenever I actually walked this road for too long, I found myself seeming right and wise in my own eyes, but actually empty inside, like something was lacking. 

The more sensitive to God I became, through reading the Bible and learning through some truly beautiful and supportive friends about Jesus, the more I found my criticisms not of the world or of others, but of myself: though I was kind and nice, only the perfect beauty of God ripped up my ego and showed me that my own heart was hardened to ultimate love. 

I realized that without God, I only seemed like I knew myself. Without hope, I only appeared wise- but I had no real light from within.

Hope anchors the soul. When we truly find what our souls are made of- and who they are made by- we find God and His abounding love the anchoring force in our lives: eternal, unending, deeply truthful, wise, fully present, and good. 

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." -Ecclesiastes 3:11

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books. The idea that God has a time for all things humbles me so much: it has made me willing to change my perspective that I am the author of my story for the perspective that He is the author (of the whole story) and I am merely a character.

When we think (as is popular wisdom) that we are the authors of our lives, we wind up unable in the long run to have the wisdom and foresight to adjust maturely and effectively to unforeseeable circumstances because we believe that we are the masters of the whole course of our lives. But if no one is leading us, we lack essential wisdom to see where we really stand in the story of our own lives- both where we have been and where we are going. Biblical wisdom endows us like nothing else with an important humility that is essential for not only a successful character, but successful relationships, friendships, and life. 

No one can know what will happen (good or bad) in their life. We tend to focus on the bad when we feel we are in control- and we tend to miss sometimes the enormous good that is often planted in our lives through His perfect timing and grace. Bad things happen that we don't feel we deserve, yes- but good things happen that we don't deserve either: we have our health, our friends, our wives and husbands- do we really feel we did something to 'deserve'- to be entitled to- these things? Perhaps we cultivated them to some degree, or attracted them; but there's nothing about our own perceived perfect behavior that actually inherently deserves them. Where pride tells us yes, humility often tells us no. Humility tells us nothing is in our own possessive strength and makes full gratitude possible. 

If we choose it, there will be a time when we draw near to God and allow Him to make us the most beautiful version of ourselves possible: the version He intended by our hearts softening to receive blessing from His hands, and not our own. He makes everything beautiful as He authors it, in its time.

"Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healing for the bones." -Proverbs 16:24

The book of Proverbs offers such essential wisdom. This verse is so simple- and yet how often do we have the courage to actually offer each other truly kind words which simply help the soul of another being or heal a broken spirit, without wanting anything in return?

Many people use their words to defend their opinions or bolster their ideas against another's, or often they don't use their words at all for fear of being rejected or spoken against. But one who simply uses their words kindly bravely does the work of God, offering healing and selfless goodness for the very soul of another person.

I find that offering kind words does not always necessarily mean a delivery of His word directly from Scripture, but more means an extension of God's character to another person. When a Christian offers kind words, it is because of their awareness of what God is like: how He loves us, and how He calls us to love people so that we can say the right thing at the right time, in the right way. Mindful, well-chosen words orchestrated by God working through us allow us to speak the truth with wisdom and love, and this heals the souls of others in a way that truly makes a difference.

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