How Then Shall We Live?
Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” – Galatians 2:20:25
Photo Credit: http://www.everypainterpaintshimself.com/article/rembrandts_raising_of_the_cross
Rembrandt (1606-1669) is the only painter who left 90 self-portraits. He gradually and attentively painted the slow ruin of his own flesh. He revealed in his work, the times of skepticism and courage, melancholy and calm; all was laid open, like a confession before a priest. He also painted fantasies about himself. He painted himself as a wealthy nobleman and a flamboyant cavalier, although he was neither. By 1640, he had become the most successful artist in Amsterdam. Yet, he knew his popularity would not last, so he painted his decline as well. After ten years, his popularity was faded. By 1652, he was bankrupt. All was captured in a moment of time with his brush.
My personal favorite self-portrait of Rembrandt is his painting of the crucifixion of Christ. He painted himself in the crowd below, identifying himself as one who crucified Jesus. Conveying the message that if he were there, he too would have fallen, like all the rest. Rembrandt was a master painter who left his impression on many.
Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was also such man who painted a self-portrait in the lives of many suffering Christians during his life. Like other pastors who were imprisoned for their faith, Richard had an agreement with his prison officials. He would preach the gospel to the other prisoners, and the officials would beat him. Preaching in prison was absolutely forbidden. If anyone wished to share the gospel, they would pay the price – a price Pastor Wurmbrand paid many times. Of his 14 years in communist prisons, Wurmbrand wrote in his book, Tortured For Christ; “They broke four vertebrae in my back, and many other bones. They carved me in a dozen places. They burned and cut eighteen holes in my body.” He was also refrigerated in a “cold cell,” had his teeth knocked out, was drugged and tempted, and nearly died of tuberculosis. Yet, his suffering marked those who witnessed his courage, and later heard his stories. He painted pictures with his words of those that suffer for the sake of Christ. He was truly tortured for Christ.
Pastor Wurmbrand painted his self-portrait in my own life with his many stories and insights into the Greek and Hebrew languages. He was what the Spanish call a “Contador,” a keeper of the old stories. These precious stories must be preserved for future generations to read and be encouraged.
Each of us is given the opportunity to paint a self-portrait in the lives of others, but how many of us actually pick up the brush? We can leave a mark in the lives of others and make a difference. We can be the face that someone remembers when he is down-and-out, or feeling grief. We can be God’s messengers to shine the reflection of his love here on earth to the lost. We are called to it. It is our commission as children of the living God. Each of us has a canvas; a circle of influence that we are a part of, and somewhere on that picture is a portrait of each one of us. What are we doing in that big picture?
Words to Think About…
<>–WORDS TO LIVE BY—<>
“And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
“You yourself may ebb and flow, rise and fall, wax and wane, but your Lord is this day as He was yesterday; and it is your comfort that your salvation is not rolled upon wheels of your own making, neither have you to do with Christ of your own shaping.” – Samuel Rutherford (1600 – 1661) Scottish Minister
“Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know.” – Rembrandt, Dutch Painter (1606-1669)