Thursday, April 21, 2011
During our eleven and a half years of marriage, Buck and I were active in the Emmaus Community. Emmaus is sponsored by the United Methodist Church and provides a Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon discipleship retreat several times each year. It is a life-changing experience for many!
In October of last year, I was asked if I would consider providing the banner, depicting the theme of the weekend for the men's spring retreat. I accepted the invitation and with lots of prayer and searching of scripture, I sensed the plan and design that God wanted for the group of men in attendance. He inspired me during the two months that I invested in it's creation. What follows is a copy of the letter that I sent with the banner, to share my story and the symbolism behind all the components that made up the design. I wanted to be assured that these men, and now my readers, would understand what I felt God wanted me to communicate through my artwork.
I wanted to let you know that I had the privilege of providing the banner for your weekend. Some of you may know my late husband, Buck Barnhouse. I am certain, had he not been called home almost two years ago, he would have been enjoying your weekend along with you! When your weekend director asked me if I would consider doing your banner, my response was honest: "If you let me know about your theme and your vision, I will pray about it and let you know what the Lord has to say about this. But, to be honest, my first thought is 'no way; no thank you'! But I will pray and see what the Lord has in mind." Two hours later, your Director responded:"My theme is 'Fight the Good Fight' from 1 Tim 6:11-12."
Your weekend theme is more than meaningful to me. I will try to share why. As I sat facing Buck's casket at his grave site in West Virginia, his brother, Jimmy, stooped down behind me and told me that while Buck was in the hospital, Jimmy had a dream. He said Buck came to him and said, "I have fought the good fight." What I now refer to as Buck's verse goes on to say: "I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing." 2 Tim 7-8. Buck loved the Lord with all his heart and "fought the good fight" in a way that made me so proud and thankful that God choose me to be his wife! There was no doubt in my mind that the Lord wanted me to design and paint your banner.
As I prayed and searched the scriptures for inspiration, I sensed the Lord's leading me to include two critically important components of a Christian's armor: his Shield of Faith and his Sword, symbolizing the Word of God. No medieval soldier in his right mind would go into battle without his weapon (sword) and a way to protect himself (shield). It is no different today. Also, solders don't go into battle alone. The Lord wants us to depend on Him, as well as, to look to our Christ-follower friends and family members to support us with prayer and accountability.
As Christian's, we need to be alert to our enemy's tactics, especially in the personal battlefields of our minds! My prayer for you this weekend is that the Lord will communicate His unconditional love for each of you and that you will have a clearer understanding of what 'Fighting The Good Fight' is supposed to look like in your life as you journey on with the Lord, knowing that He has your back! He promised that He would never leave or forsake you.
I felt inspired to use strong, bold colors to symbolize the confidence you can have in the Lord's Faithfulness to provide all that you need to live a godly, manly life. The purple in the sky is meant to represent the challenges, trials and struggles we all face on a daily basis...the darkness that often tries to consume us. Notice the Light of the SON SHINE breaking through the darkness and the Shield of Faith protecting the modern soldier as he humbles himself and asks for God's help to be strong, courageous and ALL God created him to be! The sword and shield are depicted in glittering gold to remind you of the priceless value and unmeasurable worth these invaluable tools have, as you utilize them in your daily lives.
I was very personally blessed in the process of creating this gift for you! I hope you are blessed by what the Lord and I put together and that it will come to mind in the future, when you need some encouragement to "Fight The Good Fight"!
God bless you gentleman,
Sometime in the future, I would like to write more about some of the things I learned through the process of designing and completing this artwork. It was an interesting and challenging process. Most importantly, I sensed that God wanted me to know, that now, I needed to be intentional to "Fight The Good Fight"! I know the Lord will equip me to do just that, as I move forward on this: my "Tandem Journey"!
Posted by Renee' B. at 7:00 AM