Thursday, February 26, 2009


This composite began with a photo of a window! In my mind’s eye, I began to picture a place that was a shelter from the harsh winter. It is a surreal place. To me, "surreal" is exactly what the word itself implies "above real". Surrealism is a way for me to express spiritual and psychological things artistically . So this place is more than just a physical shelter, it is a place of warmth, safety and provision for the person who trusts in God. It is a "place" found only in the Kingdom of God: it is under His dominion and therefore receives all His benefits.

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:33

Scriptures show a picture of the Lord Himself being the shelter for His people:

"For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy." Psalm 61:3

"I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah" Psalm 61:4

"And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain." Isaiah 4:6

"For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock." Psalms 91: 1-2

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. . .Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways."
Psalm 91: 8-11

Staying in the shelter means being obedient:

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." Proverbs 3: 3-10

Whenever I put a woman, princess or bride in a picture, it represents the "Bride of Christ". This is one Biblical representation of the Church, and because it is the last hour, the Bride should be busy "making herself ready". The model I chose for this picture had the look I wanted, but I was concerned about her pose for some time, and did attempt to change it. But after a while, the Spirit got through to me that this was just right.
Why is she looking in a mirror? Doesn’t this seem vain? While there’s much to be said about the Bride making herself ready, let’s just stick to what is expressed in the picture, and I’ll eventually get to the significance of the mirror.

In a prophetic picture of the Bride in Revelation, she is seen completely ready for her Lord:
"Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." Revelation 19:7-8

In this artwork, the Bride is still getting used to trusting the Lord to keep her safe from the current conditions in the world, here represented as the dead of winter. She is still focusing somewhat on herself and her identity, not too concerned with anything outside her home. In her place of trust, she is safe, provided for and even full of joy.

My rooms also represent the inner being, here, that of the Bride in a state of "dwelling in the Lord". There are varying symbols of her bounty in the room: she’s warm, and she even has a different attitude than the world outside, full of life and the fragrance of the Lord (represented by the vines and the roses). Out there amid the snowy trees (knowledge) is an owl, which blends in with them (subtle): it is the wisdom of the world that has been shut out. She has light, however, and the three candles represent the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is a jug for wine (Spirit) and a jug for water (Word).
There are apples in the shelter, which represent a fruitful life, a rich harvest, health, and desire– as Solomon put it: "Sustain me with cakes of raisins, Refresh me with apples, For I am lovesick." Songs 2:5. This lovesickness is a recurring theme in my pictures of the Bride, for she longs to be united with her Beloved. She still rejoices in Him though, being reminded of His will by the Spirit (the dove) who dwells with her and gives her peace.
She praises Him with music, represented by the violin. Because it’s a difficult instrument to play, she has to put in lots of practice! And she’s got loads of books! This is a little of my own preference here, for if I was to be "holed up", I’d want lots to read. But it stands for the Word of God, and how she’s getting instruction in His wisdom so she can rule and reign with Him.

I do occasionally use personal symbols (as occur in our dreams and we automatically know what they mean), and I sometimes use cultural symbols when they are generally known. The bluebird often signifies "happiness", and I use it to mean a true joy of heart and contentment. And to me, a hummingbird represents a passionate pursuit of God’s presence. The fuzzy cat is there to let us feel the comfort, and as a companion, for the Lord never leaves us or forsakes us, and He is the comforter.

There is also the element of waiting and preparedness, as shown in the Song of Solomon:

"A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, A spring shut up, A fountain sealed. A fountain of gardens, A well of living waters, And streams from Lebanon. [The Shulamite] Awake, O north wind And come, O south! Blow upon my garden, That its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden And eat its pleasant fruits." Songs 4: 12, 15-16

Part of the preparation is self-examination, thus the mirror. This doesn't mean we are to be sin-conscious or legalistic, just honest and open to the Holy Spirit's conviction. Most of the time we know what we are doing wrong, but often we ignore it, going into a state of denial:

"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified." II Corinthians 13:5

"But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." Galatians 6:4

But it’s not just self-examination that does the job, the Lord Himself examines us and purifies that which is faulty:
"Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart." Psalm 26:2

Faithfulness to the Word and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit are absolutely essential to the preparation of the Bride:

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." James 1:22-25

In this, she participates in the preparation of the work of her Beloved:

". . .that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5: 26-27

As the Bride hears His voice and obeys Him, she sees Him more and more clearly, and eventually will know Him as completely as He knows her:

"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." I Corinthians 13:12

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord..." II Corinthians 3:18

"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." I John 3:2

The Lord Jesus is drawing all His children closer to Him, preparing them with wisdom, knowledge and understanding so that we may live victoriously in this present age as shining witnesses for His glory. His desire is that we partake of all that He bought for us on the cross. He is our risen, compassionate High Priest in heaven, interceding for us at all times.
Jesus is our Beloved who desires a deeper relationship with each of us. He is revealing more of Himself in these times, if we would take the time to look. His purpose is to draw all believers into the unity of the faith and Spirit, so that together we can reach our highest destiny: to rule and reign with Him forever.

". . . the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints," Ephesians 1:8

"To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27


All the images used to make this digital "collage" painting are from (except for the bright pink roses). The list of credits and links can be found on my Flickr photostream, along with a larger view of this artwork:

"Shelter" is a photocomposite artwork by Karen Gladys Henry ©2009. All Rights Reserved.

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