- Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls -
Steve Holtje was talking with me about the challenges faced by Christ's first followers when I snapped this photo of Paul, depicted here by Giuseppe Obici with a sword in one hand as a symbol of his martyrdom, and a book in the other as a symbol of his mission as GOD's messenger.
I set my little Fuji camera on a tiny tripod, tripped the shutter and waited ten seconds for the "self-timer" to take a picture after all the vibrations ended. The camera recorded the shot and we went inside... to see artistry, beauty and grandeur juxtaposed with curiously primitive images of Jesus... looking angry and strange.
I've studied Art for decades and I'm continually amazed at artists' depictions of Jesus. It's perfectly appropriate that He is painted, sculpted, drawn and colored by the world's greatest artists... and the world's worst.
Portrayals of Jesus often say more about their creators than they say about The Creator. He is depicted as meek and mild, suffering, bearing the cross, hugging children and floating in the air. He is a baby in a manger. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Paul had a lot to say about Jesus, so I scrolled through some creatively profound Pauline texts as I sat inside this beautiful Basilica.
Only a few days later I was hooked to a tower of monitors by a tangle of tubes and wires. In Gemelli Hospital, I thought long and hard about Paul's struggle with limitations and weaknesses.
I remembered what happened when Paul's weakness pushed him to his knees... and he let Jesus take over.
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2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 - I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
"My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness."
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
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Apparently, if you are weak, limited, abused, opposed, disadvantaged, pushed-down or diminished.... it's a really good time to come to Jesus.