I shared this art reflection in our service Sunday. You will see some places where I put .... because I shortened the quote text for time purposes. If you want the whole thing word for word click on the painting to go to a site where you can read it.
General William Booth the founder of the Salvation Army, had a vision one day while traveling. He wrote a compelling sermon that has been depicted in this painting. Time does
not allow for me to share the whole thing but if you click on the painting it will take you to a site where you can read it. This post is intended as more of an art reflection.
I encountered that sermon and this picture when I was a new believer. It profoundly affected me and has stuck with me for 30 years. Let me share some of General Booths own words.
“I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them every now and then vivid lightning flashed and loud thunder rolled, while the winds moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam, tower and break again.
In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating; shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and screamed, they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.
And I saw out of this dark, angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with its summit towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around the base of this rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those who were already safe on the platform were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place of safety.
On looking more closely, I found a number of those who had been rescued, were industriously working with ladders, ropes, boats, and other means more effective, to deliver the poor strugglers out of this sea. Here and there were some who actually jumped into the water, regardless of all the consequences, in their passion to “rescue the perishing.” And I hardly know which gladdened me most-the sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks, reaching the place of safety, or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those who were wrapped up in the effort for their deliverance.
As I looked on, I saw that the occupants of that platform were quite a mixed company. That is, they were divided into different “sets” or classes, and they occupied themselves with different pleasures and employment. But only a very few of them seemed to make it their business to get the people out of the sea.
But what puzzled me most was the fact that though all of them had been rescued at one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone seemed to have forgotten all about it.... and about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes, many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers, and sisters, and even their own children.”
I think the artist did a pretty good job of capturing the vision. I have watched seen a lot of people come into the Kingdom of God and I am always astonished how quickly people seem to forget where they came from. They get busy pursuing the next big move of God. When they choose their churches they want great show, with music, with feel good teaching, and for their children to be entertained. They joined the bless me Jesus club not the one that requires that they pick up their cross and follow him. "
Listen to a little more from General Booth “I saw that some Of these people on the platform, whom the Wonderful Being had called to come and help Him in His difficult task of saving these perishing creatures, but they were always praying and crying out to Him to come to them.
Some wanted Him to come and stay with them and spend His time and strength in making them happier. Others wanted Him to come and take away their doubts and misgivings they about the truth of some letters which He had written them. Some wanted Him to come and make them feel more secure on the rock... Numbers of others wanted Him to make them feel quite certain that they would really get off the rock and onto the mainland someday;”
So I want to know where are you in the painting?
General Booth ends by saying “My friends in Christ, you are rescued from the waters, you are on the rock. He is in the dark sea calling on you to come to Him and help Him. Will you go?”
Prayer: Lord you know where each of us is in the painting. Help us to be honest right now with ourselves and with you. Some need to come out of the ocean. Some of us need to move from our place of ease and complacency and be reminded that our job here is not done. We need reminded that there is a sea of lost and hurting people who need to be loved into the Kingdom. Help us to examine our priorities and to make sure they line up with yours.