Today as I have finished this painting, Saturation 2, I think again of how it felt to be in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia, with water below me and falling all around me, the sound of the water dancing, roaring, trickling as we walked around the 16 lakes and thousands of waterfalls. This has been on my mind now for a couple of years, ever since I took the trip to Croatia with my husband, Sam. Below I will show you the layers and process of this painting.
Like this painting, the idea of saturation has been building layer upon layer. As I look back I see roots of it in the artwork and study I was doing in 1994. This is my first painting on this journey (The Blessing Cup, finished in 2004).
One of the key passages of scripture for me was Ephesians 3: 16-19
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (NIV)
The phrase, “so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”(NRSV), resonated deeply in me with such a longing and desire. So in 2005 or so, I began to pray it for myself and my family.
There were other milestones along the way preparing me for the idea of saturation:
Now as I think again of how it felt there with water below me and falling all around me, with the sound of the water dancing, roaring, trickling as we walked around the lakes and waterfalls. I think of God who is the Living water, filling and spilling everywhere, all around. Filling to overflowing.
Saturation is being so full you overflow.
God wants to fill me (and you) to overflowing, so that I (and you) may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Every Day. Fullness. Not a trickle.
Then, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water,” (John 7:38), to saturate the world with God’s love and mercy, and bring life where it flows...
Are you ready to be filled to overflowing with the all of the fullness of God?
Let it flow.
I had been thinking of how to do this painting for a while before I finally got started. I wanted to create the texture of the limestone cliffs covered in vegetation using my handmade paper. You can see here the layers of the handmade paper on the canvas…
I used watercolor to get the initial colors on the handmade paper…
Adding ink for detail on the hanging, grass like, vines…
Next I sponged in layers of acrylic to create the trees and ground cover…
More acrylic layers creating depth and details…
Finally adding the water falls…
And the lake with reflections...
I pray that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-20)
When I was studying Ephesians, a few years ago, this prayer stood out. I have long yearned to be able to comprehend, really comprehend, God’s love for me in my inmost being, and I yearned to be filled with all the fullness of God. Around 2001, I started a year of praying this prayer over myself and my family. I changed the pronouns to make the prayer personal.
What got me started on this today was thinking of praying this over Reena, our daughter who is in South Korea for a year. This is how I would do it. And if you are reading this, please pray this with me, for her:
I pray that according to the riches of Your glory, LORD, that You may grant that Reena may be strengthened in her inner being with power through Your Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in her heart through faith as she is being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that Reena may have the power to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that she may be filled with all the fullness of God.
As things go with me there was a season of praying every day but as time passed, I prayed less often until I was doing something else entirely and had virtually forgotten about it. It was a few years later when I was writing about the Living Water Series that I realized my prayers had been answered and were still being answered. I can look back now and see how God was working in me:
Back then, I had a feeling that I needed to do more in the Living Water Series but I wasn’t quite sure how or what to do. So I took a weekend at King’s Fold Retreat Centre to listen to God – to see what else I was meant to do for it, what I was missing. I read through all of the scriptures and my notes again. Then I went out to walk the labyrinth. The labyrinth is a prayer walk which allows you to focus on God while you pray and listen to him. As I walked, I asked God what else and He answered, “You need to let the passion out.” I responded, “I’m scared.” He answered by giving me a picture. The picture was of Him holding my hand like a child holds the hand of their father.
I hurried back to my room and started writing. I had never felt anything so amazing before and words just started pouring out onto the paper. From this outpour of those words came four poems and the ideas for the last paintings for the Living Water series.
As I look back on it now, I can see how God was filling me up and pouring through me. It was beautiful and I yearned for more of it. I have always wanted to experience that again, in the exact same way, but as I look back on it now, I can see God doesn’t tend to repeat encounters exactly. He is unpredictable in how he lavishes us with his love. He is full of surprises and the evidence is all around us if we would just open up our eyes and our hearts to him.
It makes me wonder how often do I block him by not “letting the passion out” and by not holding his hand? I have written several times of my need to let go and trust. It does seem to be a daily battle. God doesn’t want to just trickle his Living Water through me, He wants to saturate me, if I will let him.
This leads me to the idea of saturation. God wants to saturate us, fill us up to over flowing, to spill over with that love to the world around us.
One of the last paintings I did for the Living Water Series: Out of the Believer’s Heart, was based on John 7:37-38 and Ezekiel 47. In Ezekiel 47, the water flows out of the temple and brings life to the world. We are the temple for the Holy Spirit. He flows through us and out into the world.
In 2013, I went all the way across the world to Croatia to see the Plitvice Lakes National Park, just to hear God sing to me through the waterfalls just how much he wants to saturate me.
More on the theme of Saturation:
I am Loved poem - one of the 4 poems I mention above
Blessing Cup painting - I painted over a ten year period, 1994-2004. After the Living Water Series was complete, I realized that God had been showing this theme of Saturation early on with this painting.
In Psalm 18, the psalmist is in distress and cries out to God. God hears his cry and this wonderful imagery of God in the storm clouds coming to do battle and rescue the psalmist covers the next twelve verses. Picture the images as you read Psalm 18:
Psalm 18: 6-19
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens, and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub, and flew;
he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering(5643), around him,
his canopy thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
there broke through his clouds
hailstones and coals of fire.
13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice.[a]
14 And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He reached down from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of mighty waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
and from those who hated me;
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity;
but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
You know why God comes to the aid of those crying for help? “he delivered me, because he delighted in me.”(v 19, emphasis mine). God takes delight in me, and in you!
I love this image. God wants to come to the rescue to draw us up and love us, delight in us.
One thing I notice here. God acts after we call to him for help. Now picture again this image of the storm and God’s hand reaching down.
16 He reached down from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of mighty waters.
What would happen if God is in the storm cloud and he reaches in to hold you fast yet you resisted and didn’t go into this tender hand that reaches down to you?
What if you did? What if you crept into this big, giant hand, this gentle hand that is coming out of this thunder clapping, lightning shooting storm that is billowing around you, With wild wind and wild water flying around, what if you trusted him in the midst of the storm. You climbed up and into his hand and he held you close.
How does that feel? What would it take to trust him?
I so often get to thinking that everything depends on me. It is up to me to solve this or get that done. I see big projects, I make a plan and jump in over my head. It is too much to do on my own. There isn’t enough time. I become overwhelmed, discouraged and snappy because I am not living up to these high expectations I have for myself. Or if I do get it all done on my own, I am stressed and resentful and exhausted at the end of it all.
Take that image of God’s hand reaching down. I have a choice to continue to do things my way, on my own. Or I can acknowledge that I need help. When I am seizing control whether this is with other people or with God, I am not trusting them. When I trust someone, I have to let them do whatever it is and not take over. Otherwise where is the trust?
I find that when things seem fine it is harder to let go and trust. I like being in charge too much.
What if storms are reminders that we aren’t really in control, that God wants to be our refuge – to walk with us daily. He wants us to trust in him.
I am learning to ask for help, to not try to do it all on my own.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
One summer I was at the beach in Oregon, just watching those crashing waves come in and pour over the sand and rock. I had been contemplating this verse in Lamentations. I thought about how those waves are never ceasing. They just come and come, over and over. Endless. Never ceasing.
Even when the water seems almost calm and still the waves continue the gentle lapping against the shore like a breath – like breathing. In and out, in and out.
If you stand in the ocean and let it run into you with the power of the waves. They can rock you on your feet.
God’s love, constant and never ceasing, is like those ocean wave that just rushes in not stopping, limitless.
Think about God’s love as waves of love washing over you. Let him rock your world with the power of his love. His mercy never ceasing, his love never ending, washing over you, breathing into you.
Think about that today. Where does that take you?
This will be another verse for the Art Vocabulary of the Soul Retreat, October 28-30, 2016 on Saturation: Eph 3:16-20
Come join us and see where God wants to lead you and speak into your heart.
Only a few spots left- don’t delay. Sign up today.
Finally finished! I started this one before Christmas. Some ideas just take longer.
This painting is another one of Plitvice Lakes National Park. The theme is again of Saturation. There is so much water everywhere that the gnarly roots spread wide and far before dipping below the surface. The water was clear. The trees bowed, and turned and spread their branches wide showing off their adornment in shades of green. It was glorious and I wanted to capture all of that.
I was experimenting with putting my handmade paper on the canvas again. This time I wanted the paper to be the land and trees in foreground on top of the cliff where the water pools before falling over the edges. I used different papers for the different parts of the landscape. I used an onion skin paper for the middle ground on the left and some of the tree trunks on the right. The center clump of trees and ground was a paper with hints of peach fabric and thistle. The tree on the left and the one on the right edge are from a thin, light gray paper with red and blue threads. The foreground corners and bottom edge are from a pink paper made with poplar seed, red, bue and purple and white threads. The leaves are from a yellow and green cottonwood seed paper.
I painted acrylic on the canvas as the background and the water. I painted watercolor and watercolor crayon on the handmade paper.
Water flowing, filling, washing, spilling, around, over, under: this is saturation.
I invite you to imagine yourself on a board walk with water flowing under you from a lake spilling over to dozens of waterfalls. On nearby cliffs more water is spilling down, surrounding you with the rushing of water so loud you cannot hear the person next to you.
The Waterfalls of this show are from different parts of the world. The inspiriation came from Plitvice lakes National Park in Croatia.