My friend Jessie painted the cover of her Bible.
Brother Lawrence was born Nicholas Herman in the Lorraine region of France in 1611. At age eighteen, he experienced a profound conversion, that is, a radical change of mind and heart, when he saw a bear tree in the middle of winter standing gaunt and leafless against the snow. Anticipating the miracle of this same tree burgeoning with new life the following spring, Nicholas was overwhelmed by “a high view of the providence and power of God,” which never left him and which kindled in him an intense love for God.
~ Mother Tessa Bielecki, in the Foreward to The Practice of the Presence of God
My mind immediately leapt to another text I encountered last year in Carl R. Trueman’s The Creedal Imperative (I enjoyed the read, as I recall). In fact, reading the one after the other gives me some significant mental whiplash:
Merely looking at a tattered and broken piece of humanity hanging on a piece of wood, or imagining such with the mind’s eye, is of no use whatsoever. It is the cross set within its context of the biblical story of humanity’s creation and fall that has significance; and this requires verbal communication. One might add that since there is no other way of communicating this message that can bypass the use of words. Neither painting nor mime nor dance is remotely adequate for the message. Only clear, verbal statement of the matter can bring the message home and frame the matter in such a way that the response can then be either those of faith or of unbelief.
I love this statement for the wonderful job security it gives me as a speaking and writing Pastor. And there is truth in it, to be sure. I’m sure Brother Lawrence had a context of homiletical verbal statements from many a mass. So, perhaps you’re right, Mr. Trueman. Merely looking at a tattered and broken piece of humanity hanging on a piece of wood is of no use whatsoever.
But evidently sometimes all it takes is the sight of a bare tree in winter.
Our verbal God is so wondrously non-verbal in his communication too.
Which is really good news for all us non-verbal learning types.