I remember the first Paint by Numbers set that I received. For those of you that have never seen this type of craft, I placed an example below. It is a canvas with different sections labeled with numbers. Each number corresponds to a color and when you finish, it reveals a picture. When looking at the canvas, you could tell it was a picture of a deer (I do not know what this canvas is), but there were areas less clear because they lacked colored that provided distinction. A vague image was visible but so many details alluded the eye.
I love Scripture – reading and studying. I spend a lot of time digging in God’s Word, looking for the lines and colors that complete the big picture. I love the Old Testament. In many ways it is like the canvas that came in that painting kit; it provides structure and direction. There are things that you see vaguely, but they are not clear. The New Testament is like the color added to the canvas. Through the presentation of the Gospel and the things you read, color is added and the picture becomes clear.
You need both. Without the Old Testament, there are so many ideas that can be formulated, but not have the intricate structure and design that God intended. You also need the New Testament, the part that colors the picture and reveals God’s design in a clearer manner.
Over the past four days, I have seen the lines of the Old Testament and the colors of the New Testament become more precise and more vibrant. It is an experience that is illuminating years of study in a way that I never realized. As we walk through the places mentioned in Scripture, the intricate details of God’s Word and the nuances of its cultural illustrations have made my heart accelerate and mind connect dots that I didn’t realize were related.
In all the excitement and intrigue, my heart has also been broken. As our guide shares the number of believers and unbelievers in each city and area, I realize the vast amount of people that have the entire kit in front of them but do not recognize the miraculous picture of the Gospel that lies in before of them.
My immediate desire is to invest and begin building relationships to share the Gospel and encourage the small churches in this region. It creates a burning desire to pray for these people and their salvation. I have received a burden for these people.
Israel, Palestine, and the surrounding areas are beautiful and they are filled with precious lives created in the image of God. As the vibrant, distinct lines of the Old Testament sharpen and the colors of the New Testament gain vibrancy, I mourn for a people saturated by an image they do not recognize.
I look forward to the last half of the trip that begins this morning. I will continue to learn as we walk through this land, but I will also continue to pray for the people that do not see the beatiful canvas that is before their eyes.