I was just telling my calculus students the other day, the first day of school, that a major difference between calculus and algebra is the way we view graphs of functions. In algebra, we tend to view a graph as a static picture. It just sits there. Oh look at that pretty graph of a hill (a path of a projectile in air, or inverted parabola for those that remember something from algebra). In calculus, we view graphs, curves as we prefer to call them, as flowing and changing, rising, falling, increasing, decreasing. Only a horizontal line is non-changing, sort of. A curve tells us a story of its journey.
The same goes to what I see in this painting by Kathy Ammon called “Faith Looks Up”.
Starting on the left, to me, the person moves and flows to the right through different stages of the journey to look upward in faith. In each of the faces, a transformation is seen from struggle, doubt, despair, sorrow, to surrender, courage, strength, patience, joy, and hope.
Deb at Abiding posted this image at the end of a very moving post about her struggles. My eyes immediately became misty at seeing this painting because I could see Deb passing through her struggles to reach the point on the right. I then saw myself and my story in that painting. And I saw a dozen other people’s stories too. Some of them are looking up. Some are somewhere to the left. It is all in God’s hands, not ours. I pray for them, for Deb, for all of us.
What the painting does not show is that we all will slide back to the left at times. We all fall. We all must get back up, and struggle to look up again in faith.
But once you have been through such a deep struggle, something inside of you is different. You have passed through a threshold. The next fall and struggle back can and often times be just as painful as the first, but this time you know deep within your soul that you will make it through the threshold again with faith in the power of God’s grace. You have been transformed. You are being transformed. It is getting through that first one that is seems to be the toughest.
Lord Jesus Christ, if we are not in your grace, please put us there. If we are, please keep us there. Transform us through your love.