Ordained and called: God’s masterpiece

Today, August 11, 2018, is a “doubly lovely Good News Day,” meaning I am celebrating two special occasions: my ordination to the Christian ministry, occurring 44 years ago and the second birthday of my grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins. Both of these glorious celebrations occur during August, designated as “What will be your legacy?” Month. A blog entry posted on August 1, discusses the significance of the number 8, representing a new beginning.

Upon further reflection, I realized another aspect of a new beginning for me as a teacher. I taught my first class as an adjunct instructor at a Bible College in Kansas in 1976. Having come full circle, today I serve as an adjunct professor at Carolina College of Biblical Studies in Fayetteville, NC. Oh, the Providence of God.

Even more remarkable, at the beginning of this year, I reconnected with a former student in the second class that I taught at the Bible College in Kansas, Kevin Bell. He recently earned his doctorate and is serving as an online adjunct professor at several Christian colleges. We are now colleagues pursuing some of the same goals as teachers. When we first reconnected, he spoke of the New Testament History class that I taught and made specific reference to my closing illustration of the opening session. I brought a life-size blank canvas and a full-length mirror. I instructed the students to visualize painting a life-size self-portrait which when completed we would display in “The Living Gallery of the New Testament.” I closed the first session of the course with this original poem:

The Living Gallery of the New Testament

In the living gallery of the New Testament is reserved a special space:
An empty canvas awaits each feature of your face.
Each of us paints a self-portrait in minutest detail.
To develop your life’s masterpiece, you can never fail
When you follow Christ’s example, the Master of the Word,
Beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord.
Each day abounds with potential for matchless artistry.
Now is your golden moment—you are making “His Story.”

A recent article posted in Medium.com talks about the life-changing impact a work of art can have on a viewer and asks “Have you ever encountered a work of art that captured your attention and left you speechless?” I go on to describe a personal encounter with a wood carving that moved me to tears. Included in the conversation is a statement from Olafur Eliasson, ‘Icelandic-Danish artist, who explains “Why Art has the Power to change the world”:

“Most of us know the feeling of being moved by a work of art, whether it is a song, a play, a poem, a novel, a painting . . . . When we are touched, we are moved; we are transported to a new place that is, nevertheless, strongly rooted in a physical experience, in our bodies.”

Without question, a work of art has power to touch our lives in unforgettable ways.

These comments serve as a prelude to a poem written today in celebration of my ordination as a teacher. It builds upon the opening poem for the class taught 42 years ago with a similar theme:

Breath-taking Portraits in the Living Gallery

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him
for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

Isaiah 43:7

Frank, honest, forthright, moving with spiritual insight,
Energized with a desire to serve with all their might.
Called as servants of the Lord, they have been given much;
They extend healing hands with a compassionate touch.
Walking in favor, ever eager, seeking to find
The strength to love God with their whole heart and soul and mind.
They desire to follow the Lord, to walk as the wise,
And just as Noah, they long to find grace in God’s eyes.
In the mirror of the Word we find pictures to paint,
Self-portraits of empowered people who do not faint.
From broad brush strokes, even down to the finest details,
Their whole lives reflect the love of God that never fails.
Masterpieces in the living gallery where we observe
Breath-taking portraits of all those called and ordained to serve.

Sarah Reeves offers “In the Details” to display the masterful skill of the ultimate artisan:

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