Praise Be to Thee

Last year I had the honor of attending one of the happiest
funerals I had ever been to. Could a funeral be a joyful event? This
one was!! My husband’s uncle Richard had fought Cancer in his last days, and
God eventually called him home. I have heard that sentence before: “God
called him home,” but I never was able to take it literally until I
attended Richard’s funeral.
 
The church was the largest modern Christian church I had ever
set foot in. It made our small, white New-England steeples look like crumbling
village huts. We were asked not to wear black, because his passing was
considered a celebration, and we were not mourning. As I entered the main hall,
it resembled a concert hall. The casket was at the foot of a stage, and on it was
a full band, with lead singer, backup singer, guitarist, and drummer. It was
not a sad song they played, but instead they played the most unlikely song I
ever thought a person would choose at their own funeral. It was the one I heard
often on my KLOVE station:
I was moved in a way I almost cannot describe, as we raised
our hands and shouted the song I knew and sang only in my car until that day. I
shouted the chorus loud and proud, as if Richard were dancing in elation as we
all sang “I FEEL ALIVE! I COME ALIVE! I AM ALIVE! ON GOD’S GREAT DANCE
FLOOR!” This was the first time in my life where I experienced something
other than quiet reverence when singing to God. It was the first time I sang
out in a loud praise, and it was absolutely freeing. I’ll admit it took a
little bit of getting used to, but I realized that loud and joyous praise is
something that is essential for many people in worship.
 
To me, conversing with God had been a tribute of
peace and reverence. I thought words spoken to God could only be in quiet
thoughts, or in a quiet place. There was one time I was inside a temple in
Manhattan, New York, and I was completely alone. I felt so happy, that I sang a
hymn “I Stand All Amazed” out loud. I thought
 I was alone, but
someone came around the corner and asked me to not sing. I was completely
embarrassed, and immediately stopped. Was it wrong for me to sing in the Lord’s
house? I still am not sure the answer to that question. In fact, today I have
more questions than I have answers to these days. But between you and me, I
think God would welcome both the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, as well as a Christian
rock band in heaven! He made us all so unique. I’m sure any honest
praise to God is well received.
 
I always knew that there was someone out there who when they met Jesus, they would be so elated to meet their God! I didn’t quite realize the amount of happy that could be until after Richard’s funeral. (Maybe I need to spend more time in the American South!) When I came home I clearly envisioned a new painting in my series: A man was so happy to meet Jesus, he would kneel, raise his hands above his head, and shout “Hallelujah! My Lord is with me! Praise be to thee!” And I imagined Jesus having a big smile on his face, and open arms, looking into the face of the man that is one of his finest souls. He was a man that made other’s lives sweet, jovial and hopeful. God made that man’s soul to be contagious, where everyone couldn’t help but be around him because of the grin on his face, the song in his heart, and the bounce in his step. People would ask that man “How can you be so happy in a time like this?” And that man would say “Because I know God is real! I know he loves me! And he loves you too! He can take away our pain, and he is coming again! That’s something to be happy about!”
praise be to thee god jesus watercolor portrait-wm
 I personally have a lot to learn when it comes to this kind
of attitude. Depression is sometimes at the very edge of my conscious, where I
blow away like a tumbleweed when tragedy strikes. I dislike how sadness can
have such a firm grip on my heart, and wish it wouldn’t, but that is how God
made me. He created in me intense empathy and love, and sometimes it is
crippling, so I shut it off and put up a front so I won’t be hurt so badly. But
this man has no sadness, no wall, no fear or anger. He knew how to lay it all
upon the altar of his Lord, and burn it up to the heavens above. Maybe I need
to learn how to do that too. “Let go, and let God,” as one friend told
me often.
1 Peter 1:6-9

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season , if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing , ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith , even the salvation of your souls. “

 

“Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe was the one song
that helped me truly feel the joy in this particular piece. Enjoy!

 
Special thanks 
Christine Simmons, my talented photographer friend who took the photo references of all my Sacred Art Series.
David Wilkes, My joyous model! Thank you for letting me experience this sweet happiness. It was an honor to paint you and your sincere love for Jesus.
Brent Alvord, I hope you are doing well in San Francisco, I miss you and your family. I’ll forever be grateful for your help in bringing Christ into my heart for years to come.
And a really big, special thanks to my sweetest friend Karin Guynn, who watches my Sofie while I paint once a week. I don’t know another friend as selfless and kind as you.
 
Until the next painting, may joy be with you all!
Laura

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3 Comments


    • Carol Hammond
    • April 4, 2018
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    Thank you so much for sharing your latest artistic achievement with me! It is such a joy to see your work!
    With Gratitude,
    Carol

    • christine simmons
    • April 5, 2018
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    Laura
    You are so talented. With each piece I see the refining fire in your work. This one is stunning. It captures the moment so well as we were both there. I appreciate your very open heart and your willingness to see God so dimensionally. He is universal and all encompassing in our hearts and our world. Thank you for sharing your work, your heart and unconditional love.
    You go girl and finish up this series…. xo

    • Beth Noble
    • April 5, 2018
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    What a fine painting and what a beautiful story! I lost my love of 35 years (also named Richard and also to cancer) in January. I miss him fiercely and I would have loved to have a band play for him! I’m sorry you were stopped from singing in church; I think music is one of the best ways to feel close to Heaven.

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