It was February 2014.
I wrinkled my face in disgust and put my paintbrush down. Slowly I sat and then lay on my back facing the painting. My gaze was locked on the fresh brushstrokes, but my thoughts were racing past the canvas and out the window to the perceived crises eating at my inner peace.
Less than a year after graduating with a BA in psychology I was not where I had expected to be in life. Although I had a loving boyfriend and great community in Portland health complications had forced me to take an extended leave of absence. For months I had been “stuck” at my parents' home in Alaska where doctors struggled to give me clear answers. At this point my health was tolerable and I had finally bought my return ticket to Oregon.
But a recent phone call threatened to shatter my return plans. The family I had been living with needed to move and they no longer had room for me and all my stuff. They would be out of the house before I even landed in Portland and my back up living arrangements had also fallen through.
Some people would not panic at the thought of landing in an airport without knowing where they were going to living but at this stage in my life that idea terrified me. I toyed with the idea of staying in Alaska longer. Deep down I didn't want to stay but fear was clouding my vision to see past my housing situation.
My focus came back to my bedroom and the canvas in front of me. So far it was a painting of a bridge only partly built. The ropes extended across the canyon but the planks where not all in place. They were coming down from heaven one at a time. There was also an alternative path to the left of the bridge, a stair that snaked down the side of the canyon. When I first saw this picture during a prayer time I knew that the seemingly safer path would not get the view to their desired destination. I would call this piece “Choices”. Would my views choose the safer route or chose to step out before all the pieces were in place?
And then it hit me. "That was my life right now!"
I started to cry. I had seen the picture of the rope bridge several weeks earlier. Before the plane ticket was bought and before my housing had fallen through. I thought it was for a friend I knew who also had an important life decision ahead of her. But no. This was one of those moments that God had a message for me in my painting that I didn’t realize until the piece was almost finished.
I felt convicted by God's timing but also comforted. He had already given me a word about my situation through my artwork. I could choose to stay in Alaska which was the safer route but it would not get me where I wanted to go. Or I could take a leap of faith with a half built bridge and trust God would put down the planks when I needed them.
Based on my knowledge of God's character and an art piece I chose not the cancel my flight.
Many years later I now have several personal examples of when God has used paintings to confirm where I am in life or where He is directing me. I have also watched other people experience the same guidance. I call this inspired art and it's normally not the kind of pictures you find at IKEA.
How do you know that an art piece is aligning with your life? It's that moment when you encounter a painting or another art form and your heart cries out "That is my life" or "I need that message in my life." It can happen during any season and it will happen more often if you look for it. Connecting with art on a spiritual level is something I pray all of you get to experience many times in life.
How did my leap of faith end?
Two days after I realized the connection with the bridge and I made the decision to still go to Oregon I got a phone call out of the blue. It was the family that I had been living with. Through a chance conversation they discovered that their neighbors needed someone to watch their house for a month, right when I was getting into town. They had a guest bedroom for me and were willing to house all my stuff in their garage. And the icing on the cake? They were both artists and had converted part of their house into an art studio. God had handpicked a temporary home for me to finish four paintings I had promised a friend and He invited me into a deep experience of His provision. I am glad I accepted His offer to cross the bridge.
"Choices," 24"x30", Acrylic, February 2014
I like to write as well as paint. Often times the story behind a piece brings more life to the work. - Jessica Broich