An old guy I never met stole my heart.
I was at a wedding in Indianapolis, IN. My beloved Aunt showed me a photograph she had taken while on their latest trip to Israel. The picture was of an old Bedouin Shepherd sitting in an antiquities shop in Jerusalem.
Oh I loved him! His face lined by countless years. His large, weathered hands and staff was a testimony of his desert wanderings. His whole life spent in the center of some of the world's most historical moments. Not to mention God's prophetic timeline.
Abdul Allah, from the South, was one of the young Bedouin Shepherd who played a part in the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the late 1940s. This event is remembered as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century.
I studied the old man's face in the photograph, something deep stirred within my spirit. The destinies and plans of God being unveiled through the lives of the ordinary and average. Did this Bedouin Shepherd realize how God's hand had been upon him all these years? Do any of us realize the weight of God's love upon us?
When I first started painting Abdul Allah, I kept seeing an antique pocket watch made of gold. It dangled from his weathered hands. The round cover, etched in mysterious designs, opened to reveal the delicate clock within. It was a heavenly clock. I could hear the sound of it ticking.
Suddenly, God spoke to my spirit.
"Timeline. I am Shepherding my Time. I watch carefully to see my Words fulfilled in the proper time. I will fulfill every promise I have made concerning my Land, Israel and the nations."
"A voice said, “Shout!”
I asked, “What should I shout?”
“Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly
as the flowers in a field.
The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.”
O Zion, messenger of good news,
shout from the mountaintops!
Shout it louder, O Jerusalem.
Shout, and do not be afraid.
Tell the towns of Judah,
“Your God is coming!”
Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power.
He will rule with a powerful arm.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." Isaiah 40:6-11 (NLT)
When it came time for me to paint the Bedouin's hands, the image of the pocket watch changed. Now, he held an olive branch. The leaves were a deep green. The olives were ripe and ready for harvest. I asked God, "Why am I seeing this? I thought you wanted me to paint him holding the pocket watch?"
"Peace. The Shepherd is holding onto peace.The world is crying out for peace. I will return and bring Peace to the land and the nations. The time is soon."
I heard a song in my spirit then, Misty Edwards singing Isaiah 49, but it was the verse from Zechariah 14:3-4 (NLT) that I felt God wanted me to read.
"Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle.
On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south."
"What is the significance of the clay vessel beside him, Lord?" I asked as I continued to paint, finally nearing the end of this journey.
God led me to read 2 Cor. 4:6-18 (NLT).
"For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
In a time when the world is full of turmoil and strife, and it seems like only dark days lie before us. The Spirit of God testifies to the hope we have in Him. Be not afraid. Don't see the world through your natural eyes. Rise above the clouds to see the world through the eyes of God.
"I [Jesus] have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
Is there something eternal shining within your clay jar?