Ever Watchful. Always Loving.

Our family has a framed sketch of Jesus that hangs in an open area of our home that we call my “office.” An intricate drawing of Christ on His way to the cross – thorny crown pressed into his head, face downward in submission – the picture has always exerted a strong draw on my heart. It’s been hung on the wall of every home I’ve lived in for the last 20 years.

The thing is…I’ve only really known Christ for the last 12 years or so.

Jesus with Crown of Thorns

When this sketch was given to me as a going-away gift from friends, I was preparing to leave Missouri with my first husband to move five states away, a move we were making for his career. We attended church “fairly faithfully,” so I suppose this gift seemed more than appropriate at the time; I would have told you that I was a believer. Even back then, before I understood and accepted the implications for the way I lived my life, I did believe that Jesus was Who He said He was.

So I hung this sketch on the wall of our new home in Ohio. When we divorced, I took the sketch with me to the new house I had purchased as a single mother. It hung on that wall through four years of dodgy dating choices and other lost-in-the-wilderness experiences as I tried to figure out exactly who I was in the wake of my marriage ending.

When I moved back to Kansas City and into temporary housing, this picture is one of the few I bothered to take out of storage and hang on the wall of our rented house. And it wasn’t hanging on that wall for very long, either, before I was packing it up yet again and moving to Columbia after marrying another Christian I had met only 12 weeks prior. (Not a courtship practice I recommend to anyone, though it has worked out quite well for me.)

What strikes me most about all this – as I sit in my office area day after day and look up at this image of a beaten and battered Jesus – is that it’s a really clear visual of the inexhaustible patience of God.

The drawing reminds me that God was with me (and deeply loving me) all those years when I attended church and said I believed in Him…but couldn’t begin to see how that belief would have much relevance in my life once I drove out of the church parking lot.

He was with me as I picked up my three young kids and left my first marriage…even though I had no biblical grounds to do so and refused to see how Jesus just might have something to say about the decisions I was making.

And He was with me as I slowly began to awaken to Him, to trust Him with some big decisions in my life. Decisions to pursue Him first, which in turn led me to move to Columbia, and ultimately to volunteer to help other women going through the uniquely horrible pain of divorce.

It reminds me that during all those years of rebellion and selfishness, Christ was not just “putting up with me.” Rather, He was deeply involved in loving me as His precious child (Isaiah 43:1), preparing a room for me against the day I would come home to Him (John 14:1-3), even preparing a table before me in the presence of enemies (Psalm 23:5), something else I knew precious little about at the time…but would soon come to learn up close and personal.

Over the past 20 years, this drawing has come to represent a marker of sorts for me, very much like the piles of stones the Israelites were called to put up after they crossed over the Jordan River on dry ground (Joshua 4:1-7) – it’s a reminder of the deep, unending love of God displayed through the sacrifice of His Son so that He might have a relationship with someone who really wasn’t much interested at the time. Mostly, though, it serves as a reminder to me of the amazing patience of God.

Jesus with Crown of ThornsI was 36 years old before I first began to see Jesus for Who he really is. Like many people, I’d been in churches most of my life, and so I had heard all the Bible stories. I knew and believed things about God even as a little girl…but I was an adult woman (with a lot of wreckage in her life) before I came to know God. Yet for all those years, He patiently pursued me.

As I grind through the realities of life day after day, week after week, I can often come to a point where the words and/or actions of another start to grate on my soul. Faced with a rude, incompetent or otherwise unhelpful human being, I find my level of patience quickly exhausted. Sometimes it’s the poor service I receive at a department store or restaurant. Other times, it’s simply the repeated bludgeoning of yet another cry for assistance from a small child who does in fact need help. My body aches; my soul dries up; patience is the first casualty of war.

And then I catch sight of “that” image hanging on the wall near my desk. I recall how rebellious and lost I was (and for how long). I can think of my husband’s story, too, how so many people tried to speak God’s Truth to him for well over 20 years “to no visible effect.” And, by God’s grace, I repent of being a forgetful Israelite, arguing over something petty with another member of my tribe while God’s great pillar of fire burns just outside the camp (Exodus 13:21-22). I can’t possibly be thankful enough for God’s great mercy in my life. I shouldn’t ever forget to extend grace to others. I remember who I am, Who God is, and why He cares how I live my life.

One Comment

  1. Edgar Cruz Sr said:

    Hi , my name is Edgar I am from New Jersey . I recently came across a sketched image of Jesus Christ on the internet as I was doing some research for a mural I will be painting ( I’m an artist ). But in great amazement the sketch of Jesus brought me to your site . When I saw the image and read the story behind the sketch not only was I blessed but in shock and amazed to see this sketch ever again. The first time I saw this sketch I loved the way the artist portrayed it in its sketch form. At the time I wanted to use this image and have it made into a tattoo on my shoulder . But I believe the Lord changed my heart in many ways and inspired me to do my own version of the sketch in color ( I never got the tattoo). I never thought I’d ever see this inspirational piece ever again in its original sketch. Seeing it again brought back memories of how God did a miracle in my life through Jesus Christ when I was going through my own battles . I truly believe this was not coincidental for me to see this sketch again and read your blog. I’ve been blessed by it this day . I would like to know the name of the original artist I would appreciate that. If you are interested in seeing my version of the sketch please go to www. sketchbook.com view the Brooklyn Art Library Digital Library . Search for Edgar Cruz Sr under the book theme- Hope . Please take the time to look at it, it gives a glimpse of my testimony in poetic words filled with some of my art. Also feel free to pass the link to others that may be interested .Thanks for your testimony. Be blessed.

    Edgar

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