“Jesus Made the Difference”

Paintings becomes permanent records of not only artist's skills, but the heart of what matters to them is often revealed through their creations. That’s what happened with this piece. My paint corner was set up in the playroom to be near my child. Preparing to paint the hearth, I asked Kristi, “What could I hide in the fireplace to have something fun to look for?” The answer was immediate when I told her, “What better than Jesus? That’s why we celebrate Christmas!” In joyful agreement, the black mortar was painted to form JESUS’ name. Kristi often painted something in my work to be a part of it, so she created a heart shaped stone that completed the message; Jesus Loves Us. Jesus made the difference in this Christmas Card.  

"What Christmas Means to Me"

An organization seeks a volunteer artist each year to design a Christmas Card. Supporters make it possible to provide gifts for needy children. A Christmas tree and fireplace, similar to the one in our home, was approved for 1994's design. The constant thought 'what Christmas means to me' kept coming to mind; hence the nativity scene prominently placed on the mantel to exemplify our gratitude and purpose for which we celebrate this holy day. On the bellows is a snow-scene representing "Footprints of Jesus" that lead to the church. 

This October was the 1st anniversary of mourning my mother's move to heaven (the day after my birthday). The angel was a beautiful reminder that she's now with God; not because she became an angel (since no human-being becomes what only angels are created for). But this angel was my last gift from her (purchase from birthday money). Most significantly, the angel atop the tree signifies the roles of these heavenly beings on the first Christmas.

When the the painting was picked up I sensed disappointment. They called later to ask if I was willing to paint something different. They were quite sure many of their Jewish and non-believing supporters would not purchase cards with Christian connotation. Their decision was not based on religious beliefs; it was made in the best interest of providing as many gifts for the children as anticipated. 

This was a hard call for one who didn't fully understand the sin of people-pleasing which sucks the life out of its victims. The rejection could have joined the army of lies I had believed to shush my testimony; it could have reminded me of hearing as a little girl, "You were a mistake!" It could have confirmed what I heard as an adult, "Everything your hands touch fails!" I could have believe the enemy's lies, "Packed up your paints, looser! Quite wasting your time! Quite trying to be something you're not! You'll never be good enough!..." But God's plan and purpose protected me from falling for Satan's stinkin' traps. 

Family and friends told me what they would do and what I should do, but I wanted to hear from God; what did He wanted me to do? I could not entertain the idea of another painting if it was against His will. His Romans 8:28 promise kept me hopeful and protected from feelings of rejection and resentment; ‘God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him!’ He resolved in my heart that helping the children was helping Him. It pleased God not to debate theology (something I knew very little of); it pleased Him to trust His big picture and plan; and as surprising as it is to some, it pleased Him to pour myself into a snow-covered gazebo scene at Court Square titled “City Sidewalks”.

Two weeks after self-publishing cards of “What Christmas Means to Me” God revealed His good plan. An art rep called to ask, “Is Jesus’ name really in your fireplace?” I stood in front of the fireplace to explain to Mary how it came to be to include Jesus’ name when my story was transformed in the midst of sharing it. Jesus’ name was being seen in the hearth for the first time. Tears of joy accompanied a covering of God-bumps as I proceeded to tell Mary, “You’re not going to believe what I’m seeing! It’s not as visible as I painted it, but Jesus’ name IS in my fireplace along with a heart-shaped stone like the one Kristi painted!”

Brokenness is never meant to harm us; whether broken from things people have said or done; or broken from sin and consequences; or shattered from broken dreams; God never allows an experience without a divine purpose. When confessed, He even transforms the worst of sins into something gloriously beautiful. Only God is capable of doing that. Sometimes we’re given the pleasure of seeing His purposes when other times we may never understand this side of heaven.

Had this graciously miraculous thing not transpired the way it did, I’d never thought to incorporate Jesus’ name and biblical messages into my work. Jesus continues to make an eternal difference; confirmation of this is the many viewers who receive Christ, and thousands who receive biblical counsel, all because they were captivated to find Jesus’ name in these paintings.  

Be encouraged to look for Jesus in your daily experiences. Be about the Father’s business and watch Him reveal Himself. Kim Crabill, a dear friend and author once told me, “What God can do through one, He can and will do through any surrendered instrument!” Our part is to surrender our will to His; then watch expectantly for creative invitations to join our Creator in His work. I'd love to hear about your Spiritual Marker Moments if you care to share! How has Jesus made a difference in your life?

Joyce Girgenti, Artist

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