Last night, I had the sweet privilege of painting a canvas, with two dear friends, at Kelly Gau’s studio. The template for a peaceful sailboat became a ragged boat in a rough storm. Dark sky, rough waters, and blowing rain completed the picture. But in spite of how dark it looks, there is so much hope in it. I adjusted the sail staff to be in the shape of a cross, as it is the death of Christ that is our only hope in the storm of life.
As I was contemplating how to make this painting be the most significantly possible to my own life, I remembered one of my favorite sermons from John Piper, from the story of the storm in John 6. Pastor John emphasized the fact that Jesus didn’t just still the storm, he got into the boat with his disciples. In our hardest times and on our worst days, we are never forsaken.
And then I remembered a favorite hymn of my family’s from about 20 years ago, “My Anchor Holds.” No matter how strong the wind blows or how ripped up the sails get, our anchor in Jesus holds. Which went well with one of my favorite Bible verses, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Looking out of our storm-ravaged boats, it may look like the devil and our sin are overtaking us, but that is not an accurate representation of what has happened and is going on.
Jesus overcame the world, death, sin, and hell when his bloodied, mangled body died on that cross outside the city walls (1 Cor. 15:55-57). The sky was black, the wind was severe, the earth rattled. And then…the curtain in the temple was torn from the top to the bottom (Matt. 27:51). Jesus’ death had done what we were helpless to do on our own—bring us to God. But not only did his death restore us to our Father, but by his death, he “disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15). Jesus has overcome.
Piecing together the waves on my canvas felt as if I were laying my own troubles, sorrows, and pains into the picture. Often times, they feel like a drowning wave, but, in reality, they are as fleeting as the scraps of paper I was ripping. One day, all these troubles will be swallowed up in the presence of Jesus. Smoothed away into the fullness of the story that finds its culmination in the face of Christ.
As I was thinking about where I was going to hang this piece, I remembered the teal cross above my bed that my sister gave me. Written across it are the simple words, “It is well with my soul.” That cross is where this canvas belongs—even when the troubles of the world wash into my life, it is well with my soul, because Jesus has overcome and in him, we can have peace. And if the waves in my life draw my heart closer to Jesus, then let them come. May they be servants that lead to greater worship of and deeper love for my Savior.