Is He Really The Same Yesterday as He Is Today?


God is the same yesterday as He is today.

We've all heard people say it. We've read it. We own it as truth. But is it really as simple as that? Because of that one line statement, people have a hard time believing that God is not still an 'angry' God as He might have appeared to some to be in the Old Testament: the God who flooded the entire world and turned entire cities in to rubble. Is He really the same yesterday as He is today?

I (and this is just me) think, at the cross, everything changed. This includes the character of God. He must have wanted there to be a clear cut way to find grace--a way for their to be instant relationship. No more priests and sacrifice. No more wrath being poured out to knock the stubborn humans back into place. So He looked at His only son...and He saw a way. But don't mistake how hard it must have been for Him to let His son suffer and die for us. He LOVED US that much. There wasn't a flood to wipe us all out and start over. He didn't turn our cities to dust. Instead, He gave His son to save us.

So is He the same? In the sense that we need to be on the watch for His wrath now? Sure, there is coming a judgement day. I know that. I get that. But in the meantime, isn't this thing we're doing, this 'Christian' thing, supposed to be about relationship--between God and others? Do we really need to be telling people in sin how wretched they are? Is that what God did when He gave us Jesus? Or did He go against what His character was up until that moment of Christ's first breath, and show us love?

Maybe He is the same yesterday as He is today. Yesterday, it was March 19, 2012. God was love yesterday. He wasn't pouring out his wrath or beating sinners over the head with Bibles or righteous words. He was more than likely whispering into someone's ear to love on that frazzled woman across the cafe with a look of pain in her eyes. He probably directed someone to give you a friendly smile and tell you how much you mean to them, because it's exactly what you needed to hear in that moment. I'm certain He was giving encouragement to the downhearted through a fellow coworker or friend. But He wasn't giving up on us. He wasn't turning His back on us or getting angry at us. I did not get turned into a pillar of salt and my home was but obliterated. In fact, He blessed me with one heck of a good day. Things weren't perfect, and I still had troubles nagging me, but I felt His love and presence. That was enough. It was more than enough.

Why can't we just accept, that God is love? Is it because we find a God that chooses to love us because we are HIS, weak and silly? Maybe that's our excuse, but in the grand scheme of things, I think it is because it means we will have to learn to love if it is true. I mean, I imagine it isn't easy to love that woman at work who we think dresses cheap and flirts without shame. It isn't easy to hand a measly five dollar bill to the homeless man standing at the corner, because...well...he is probably only going to buy beer with it later on. And what about the weird kid at school? The women that have abortions...the cheaters...the people standing across the political line from you...the people you just 'don't get'...the parent that hurt or abused you...the homosexuals...the criminals...the people you believe deserve death.?

It really is hard to love. So hard that it sometimes requires a great sacrifice on our part to do so. But I guess we're not alone. God did it. He showed us it isn't easy, but it certainly is the only way.

So, yeah. MY God, the way I chose to see Him and believe in Him, is the same yesterday as He is today. Because He's still love. That moment at the cross...changed everything. It changed us all. That moment at the cross gave us a hope and a future. Without it, without that incredible display of unconditional love, we'd be dead by now. None of us deserve our tomorrow without it.

God is patient. God is kind. God is not boastful or proud. God is not rude. God does does not demand His own way. God is not irritable, and keeps no record of wrong. God does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. God does not give up and never loses faith. God is hopeful and endures
through every circumstance.


~Gia
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They Are Someone's Reality


I wish I could tell you that I don't call my fallen soldiers my 'dead guys'...but that's exactly what I call them. For reasons I cannot explain to even myself, it makes it easier. I don't want them to be fallen soldiers. Because I know they are dead, I just want them to be dead guys. Not heroes. Not men like my husband that went to war...but these didn't come back. I just want them to be...guys. It is harder when I realize the circumstances in which they died--were killed. I don't know if any of that makes sense.

But here is the thing...

I thought this was going to be easy. Forget the fact that I hate to draw. Forget the fact that death doesn't make me cringe. I could be that woman that shelters the family watching their loved one actively dying in the hospital room. I wouldn't run from it. I would wrap my arms around the hurting people being left behind, and let their tears soak into me...

But that first email I opened with a fallen soldier's picture attached...well...it was a quick punch to the gut. I smiled. I don't know why. And then tears began pouring down my cheeks. What made me cry was the sight of his two children, the same ages as my two, wrapped tight in his arms. They all three had the same beautiful smile. My heart shattered. "God, what did You ask me to do?"

As I sketched this man and his children, I made small talk...told jokes...asked him why he had to smile largest out of one corner of his mouth because it was a challenge for me to get it right. I didn't talk to the children as I sketched them. I didn't have the courage. Does that even make sense...? All I could think was, "They are so very young. They won't remember him. They won't know how the deep vibrations of his voice will comfort them when they are afraid. They will forget the smell of his aftershave...the rough calloused hand tucked so much larger in their tiny one."

See. It's hard. That's why I call them my 'dead guys'. Just guys. I don't read their name until it is time to ask my prayer team to pray over the portrait and the family receiving it. Until that moment, they are only my dead guys. Which makes me some sort of...weird...girl, huh? Me and my dead heroes. Just hanging out for six hours a day. Crazy.

But every once in a while, I catch sight of some dialogue one of the parents has written in the email requesting a portrait. I see them speaking with such love, telling how their son loved music, or just loved to make people laugh. I can almost picture the mother adoring the picture, staring at that snap shot of their child, holding up a fish, drinking beers with 'brothers', standing tall with a tiny bit of pride while his father tucks an arm around his shoulders...

They are real. Even after death. They aren't ghosts...or fading memories. They are someone's flesh and blood...someone's heartbeat that will never ever cease. They are pride and love...the kind of love that hurts even after death. They're still very much real to their loved ones hurting here on earth...and to me, staring at their pictures, trying to figure out how to bring them to life on my ridiculous sketch paper that leaves so much wanting.

Secretly, I hope I never taste from the cup shoved into these people's hands. I don't want to ever be that mother, wife, sister or lover of these heroes. But neither did the women I am sending the portraits to. We cannot begin to understand that shadow in their life...of loss.

But I...

Well...

I can honor that. Somehow. We all can. Somehow.

Right?

~Gia
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Selah Art Ministry




I wanted to be a writer. With my whole heart, I wanted to be a writer. It was my dream. It still is my dream. Somehow, I will one day be a successful writer. I'm determined. I promise. Just watch and see.

Sigh...

I might have been that successful writer by now if I hadn't started arguing with God. So let this story I am about to unfold be a lesson to you. Do NOT, under ANY circumstances, argue with God. Don't mock or laugh at the talents He gives you....because He might just knock you over the head and make you eat your words.

It happened to me one Sunday morning. My husband was about to preach at our church for the first time. I was pretty proud and scared out of my mind that Roger was going to get up in front of the congregation and preach a sermon. What if he did or said something inappropriate? I was convinced he was going to get us thrown out of the church. Seriously. I was terrified. But one second later, I was jealous. What did I have to offer God? Sure, I'm a pretty talented photographer, even successful at it...but how did that change lives? I can write, but God certainly wasn't opening any doors for my words to go further than my circle of dedicated readers that also happen to be my friends. That didn't count. So what did I have? Truly?

"I gave you the ability to draw at a very young age and you refuse to use it."

God's voice was as clear as a bell. You would think that would be enough to drive a woman to her knees and promise to take up the graphite and sketch paper and never put it down. Nope. Instead, I scoffed at the idea. "Art? I can't paint. I can only draw people. How is that going to help anyone?"

"I will give you the people to draw, and if you are obedient and sketch and send the portraits to the people I give you, I will breathe exactly what they need in that moment upon the paper."

Shivers.

It still makes me shiver.

Tears were in my eyes. God reminded me of a soldier that was killed in Afghanistan from Southern Indiana; a toddler hit and killed by a car; Marines that were friends of my husband killed at the start of the war in Iraq. With each memory, I recalled wives, mothers, father and siblings with tears in their eyes. Some questioned God. Others were simply broken almost beyond repair. I saw God breathe on sketches of the deceased...and the breath wash over the loved ones left behind.

I'm not foolish. I know that a sketch is only a sketch. It isn't flesh and blood. It isn't a heartbeat returning to life. It is only graphite and paper. Someone might receive one of my portraits and not a thing will happen. But there is a promise. It might take time, but eventually...ONE DAY...they will stare at the portrait and feel the slightest tickle of God's healing breath upon their cheek. He promised me.

So, I've put my strings of words and delicate novel plots on a shelf for now and decided to be obedient. In a few months time, I have completed more than 20 portraits of fallen soldiers and sent them to their mothers. Each was sent anonymously and without payment. But the word is spreading and the requests are multiplying. I need more artists to join my little ministry. They will come...I know they will. In the meantime, I am going to have to stop doing this on my own, secretly, and let others in to help and play a part. It has become quite obvious that God is making this step toward obedience much larger than just me. It isn't about me anymore. It is about an opportunity for Him to reach the heart of the broken. How stinkin' amazing is that?!?! And here I thought I was just honoring His request.

So, this blog post is a step in a whole new direction. It's me letting other people know what I am up to. It is me screaming at the top of my lungs about this ministry. It is me hoping that others will hear about it and want to play a part. It's me giving others an opportunity to be used and be obedient alongside me. This life isn't just about us. Mostly...it's about loving on others with everything we got inside us. 'Cause that's what God does for us. And I pretty much want to be like Him when I grow up.


~Gia


NOTE: Selah Art Ministry if for anyone in bereavement and not only for military families.
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