This is a large scale painting (72" x 120") derived from an old family photo of my father-in-law as a young man trying to pull his nephew on a ski. This was his method of teaching how to waterski. The ridiculous nature of pulling a water skier by your own physical power is amusing especially in light of the idle motorboat sitting complacent in the background, where the devil himself lies in wait with red boxing glove fitted for battle. This was one of many famed stories concerning the alpha male who often tried to harness life in his own power, finesse, skill, ingenuity and might. The utter disregard for physical limitations, the realities of life and common sense gave way to the greater temptation of temporary heroism. Although, not quite as emboldened as my father-in-law I often find myself submitting to the same temptress. For me the battle is not as much in the physical world but rather in the midst of the spiritual. Why don't I pray more often and with greater fervor? Why do certain sins beset me so easily? Why do I rest in myself as if I can solve anything? The greater question is really why do I want to replace God with my own feeble ambitions? As ridiculous as pulling a water skier by hand, so is the man who walks in his own strength.
The spiritual battle and calling to put on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6 is the exact remedy for our insistent desire to live life according to our own strength and accord. We need an external power to conquer that which entangles and ensnares us. Is that power found in the trappings of this world? or through the might of man himself, with his inventions and technological advances, like a boat? Or is it found in his philosophies and our conjuring of knowledge? Self-reliance is not a part of the spiritually outfitted man. The spiritually outfitted man is directed to first put on the armor of God and then, after the fact, to contemplate and understand the why. This is Faith, to step into the waters, to grab the rope, to trust and believe that by God's power...we can. In the midst, we are to be fully aware that we are engaged in a spiritual battle, not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness, evil itself. The devil who waits with gloves on to do battle. The third act is too merely stand (or ski as in the painting), stand in God's power, God's authority, God's truth, God's protection, God's love and in God's everlasting word. The crowds of people in the background of the painting stand as the faithful crew of God's church and body of believers. The final act is our grand gesture towards action, it is our entry into battle, our day of reckoning, which is astonishingly a simple call to prayer. A quiet interlude, a whisper and dialogue with the Spirit of God. For the battle is not won through ones harnessed power and own heroism but simply by wearing the protective armor of God, alert to the devil and his schemes and persevering through the power of prayer.
To Eugene Green - a larger than life man
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