Friday, December 9, 2016

What does the Future Hold?

The future. It fills many with apprehension today. Since we do not know what it holds, we often fill in the gaps with what we believe about the world. Our experiences and past can emotionally shape how we handle what may lie ahead.

In my case, I become very apprehensive if I feel I have no control over events in my life. I consider the future with anxiety, wondering if my goals will fail or what mountains of inner turmoil I must climb if they succeed. The more unsure I am, the more this feeling increases. Since I seek comfort in a sense of mastering the details of my life, I am finding God only lets me see the steps before my feet, as if I have a flashlight in a dark room lighting only what is directly before me. The lesson here is to trust Him and not myself.

We can not know what the future holds. What we can be assured of is the character of God. As Christians, our welfare is safe in His hands. He is utterly trustworthy. That does not mean our lives will be perfect and without trials. It is God’s purpose not to shield us from trouble, but to use it to shape our relationship with Him. He will empower us in our weakness, fill us with His peace, and be our steadfast joy. We step out on our journey holding this in our hearts, confident not in ourselves, but in an awesome God. Our lives become an epic pilgrimage in the joy of the love of Christ shining rays of grace throughout our days.

© Jeffrey M Green. Artwork: “Shadows on the Moss”, pastels.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Art & Science, One Artist's View

Imagine you are an artist. An empty canvass on an easel is before you. You sit for a while, waiting for a beautiful painting to appear. Maybe if you wait long enough or set it in a corner of your studio for a very long time, somehow something will emerge?

I have been an artist most of my life. I know that if I lay a blank sheet of art board on my desk and place beside it a selection of colored pencils (the medium I use) no matter how long I leave them sitting there, an art piece will not spring into existence of its own accord. I could wait years as the materials of my craft lay, as dust settles and it ages, while still nothing emerges. Not until an outside agent acts will a work materialize. Nothing will take place until a hand sets pencil or medium to paper and creates a piece of art. This is not a bizarre, fantastical accident of chance happenstance or creeping evolutionary changes of medium and paper mixture. A willful hand guided by creativity, cognitive intelligence, and action purposely creates. This does not even address how the materials themselves where made the same way.

As I contemplate the surrounding world, I see an immense amount of detail. Considering just a few, such as DNA, cells, atoms, the elements, the intricacy of plant, animal, and marine life, they leave one to question how such a marvelous masterpiece could have sprung from nothing. We are so used to life, accustomed to the earth so to speak, that it has lost its wonder. Modern technology has sanitized us, reducing an amazement of our planet and the appreciation that we exist. These things no longer have wonderment for us because we define existence as self-central to our own capacity and authority. 

When you look closely at a photo in newspaper print, the picture is composed of tiny dots. This is called halftone. Mankind is ever analyzing tiny dots in life. Though God has given us an open curiosity, this has become a cynical negativity that feeds a self-serving world view where we see nothing but dots and redefine them for ourselves. We refuse to step back and take an objective view. The charge of lack of objectivity is made toward those who believe, yet like much of skeptical thought, it falls back on itself. This is tragic, for as we redefine the nature of the things we myopically analyze, a deceptive picture instead emerges.

If one were to consider a belief in a Creator, it is not a big step to assume that if a Creator took willful intent to fashion unique living, thinking beings, would this Creator not also care about what has been made? Do we not treat our own children so? We care what they do, how they live, and the ramifications of the decisions they make. Why is it we do? Because we love our children. We know what they do can be harmful to them. We adore them, care for them, long for their good.

In my opinion, I find the prevalent acceptable scientific view to be the opposite of knowledge. It is close-minded to me, while claiming this for those who believe otherwise. When viewed in a fair-minded way, removing all the years of indoctrination, it is rather silly really. Behind all the imposing scientific rhetoric, built on fortresses of conjecture, is allot of myth and fantasy. There we find the desire to be ones own god and do what is right in ones own eyes. 

If we have lost our wonder today, this is where artists have a calling. I find it a joy that artists have a special heartfelt connection to Creation. We observe and examine the visual world, feebly copying on paper or canvas the vibrant, living, life we see. That is what early scientists did. They studied Creation and gave God the glory for it in admiration and awe of what He has wrought.

What a wonderful role artist's are blessed with. The very ability we have - as well as the hands, eyes, and mind - are formed by our Creator. We receive this gift, giving and expressing this back to the very One who gave. 

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20.

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. “Gentle”, colored pencils.