Abide – Original Oil Painting 36″ x 36″

by | May 13, 2022 | Inspiration

I was driving North on 101 following the stunning coastline. It was one of those amazing winter days where my ocean was a cerulean blue that the mirrored the sky. It is often a deeper or greyed-blue or greyed-green. Not this deep, rich turquoise, one of my all-time favorite colors! I watched for dolphins with the windows down and praise music blaring. Such a perfect drive.

I was thinking about the great time I had spending time with my oldest son and his wife and of course my grandkids. Every trip to Santa Barbara to see them is special. The silly banter between the kids and my son keeps me laughing. And the gentle patience of his wife who balances the whole bunch. Lots of smiles! 

Suddenly, I had this overwhelming sense that I had to get off the very next exit. The hair on my arms prickled as I nervously checked the rear-view mirror and the road ahead to see if there were any accidents. The road was clear. But I had that still quiet voice telling me to slow down and get off the freeway. 

I had not visited here before, so did not know what to expect. The freeway exit became an entrance to , Refugio State Park. It was a quiet parkway and didn’t see any problems, or any people for that matter. I followed the drive until it ended in a parking lot right in front of a Canary Island Date Palm, just a few feet from the ocean. The view was breathtaking. I was parked only a few steps from the water’s edge. To my right was a building with rest rooms and a large empty parking lot.

To my left was an inlet with a stream of water running back into the ocean. There were many lovely palm trees gently swaying in the light warm breeze. A family campground was located beyond the trees, but I only saw one trailer.  I walked around a bit to see if anyone needed help, or a new friend to talk to as I was trying to figure out what the emergency was that God had called me to. 

Well… Nothing. No idea clicked to understand why I was here. So, I sat on a large rock, closed my eyes and breathed in the fresh clean ocean air. 

After resting for a bit, I began studying the big palm tree. I’m always looking for my next painting, and this setting showed some potential. But the tree seemed somewhat sickly. The bark was ragged and split in many places and the palm fronds were more of a greyed green instead of the emerald, green ones I had in my backyard. Yet it was quite tall and obviously surviving. I wondered what its problem was.

Took a minute, then I got it. The tree grew so close to the saltwater ocean that it must not be getting enough fresh water and nutrients it needed.

It was not close enough to the source of what it needed for vibrant life. I filed it away for yet another lesson to learn. 

The longer I remained, the more I was entranced by the area. This needed to become my next painting! I took several photos and began formulating what direction the design would take. 

God always has a message for me in my paintings. Sometimes its lighthearted, like painting my doggie at the beach. Oftentimes he gives me a deeper bit of understanding that I am in need of. For several months I had been trying to make myself available to whatever God wanted me to do. To consciously listen and respond immediately. I was committed to saying yes to Him, no matter what I had going on in my life. Not that I was successful all the time! But I hope I was improving. This stop was one of those yes moments, and I was seeking what God had for me. Maybe that’s the message He was giving me to paint. 

Over the course of that day and the months following of actually painting this, God was slowly developing the heart of the painting.  

God was encouraging obedience on my part. To listen and respond, not ignore. But there was more to it. In order to follow His leading, I had to know Him better, and trust him more deeply. I was reminded about the vine and the branch. 

In John 15:4-7, Jesus said, ”Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  

When I am running my own schedule and being led strictly by my own desires and needs, I am going to miss out on precious and important moments with God. I need to learn to ‘abide’ in Him. To remain in Him.

When I am abiding in Christ, I am receiving the light and life through Jesus – the vine – that I need to more than survive, but to thrive. I am aware of His presence, of his love, of his words, of how he lived his life as an example to me. Being aware He is with me, helps me to listen to his gentle guiding. Maybe to call someone, or pray for someone, or even take the next exit for no known reason! 

So I painted the palm.  But I wanted to paint the tree with vibrant health, to remind me that if I desired a deep and healthy relationship with God, I needed to ‘Abide’ in Him. And the small stream near the palm was painted as fresh water, actually ‘living water’, which would be its source of excellent health. 

Looking back on that day, his message was to rest with him. To relax and enjoy his company while soaking in the warm sun, enjoy some sand between my toes and feast on his beautiful scenery. Simply to abide with him! What a great day to remember! What a lovely message he inspired me to paint! 


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