Presence Blessing #BibleJournaling

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Some of the things I’m putting in my journal Bible are pieces I’ve written in the past about Bible characters and events. One such is a poem I wrote in 2003—“Presence Blessing” sparked by 1 Chronicles 13:14.

The backstory: David wanted to move the Ark of the Covenant from someone’s house to Jerusalem, the centre of worship. Instead of moving it in the prescribed way (carried on poles by the priests) he had it placed on an ox-pulled cart. In transit, when it shifted and threatened to fall, a man reached out to steady it. When he touched it, he fell dead. God’s power, that was on the Ark, was not to be tampered with.

David was shocked and grieved. He stopped the Ark right there and left it in the house of Obed-Edom.

It was in Obed-Edom’s house for a mere three months. Yet during that time, it was obvious to everyone that God’s blessing was on him and his family (1 Chronicles 13:14). How might that have looked and felt, I asked myself. “Presence Blessing” was the result of my musing on those questions.

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Rubber stamps

Method and Materials: To do my Bible journal entry I decided to use some decorative rubber stamps of fruits and vegetables I had from years ago (typifying the bounty I imagined Obed-Edom experienced as God’s blessing). The glaze that came with them is long dried, but I found that loading them with brush marker ink worked fine.

I tried it out on scrap paper and saw that the ink bled through even copy paper, so I knew it would wreck the thin, unprotected pages of my Bible. Thus I prepped my page with transparent gesso before doing any stamping.

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Page, stamped & outlined with pen.

The plan was to decorate the right margin of the Bible page and attach the poem, hand-printed on tracing paper, as a tip in. I stamped the page fine, but then the washi tape wouldn’t adhere to the gesso-treated page. Need a Plan B.

I decided to attach the poem to the facing page instead. Once attached, it felt like it needed a little decoration behind, but nothing with words as the tracing paper is pretty thin and words under would make the poem hard to read.

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Pencil-crayoned rainbow.

I came up with idea of a rainbow, which I coloured with pencil crayons.

After it was all done, I was happy with the look of it. And on second thought,  I realized the rainbow is a wonderful symbol of God’s presence.

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The thin tracing paper allows the rainbow to shine through.

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The two-page spread.

Some rainbows in the Bible:

  • Gods first rainbow was a covenant with the people of Earth – Genesis 9:12-17.
  • Rainbow light surrounded God’s throne in both Ezekiel’s and John’s visions – Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:2-3.
  • A little article I found on rainbows in the Bible concludes with this thought about them:

    “All mention of rainbows in Scripture have a direct connection to the power and glory of God.

    “The sign of the rainbow was meant to be ‘for all future generations’ (Genesis 9:12). When we see a rainbow now, we can let it be a reminder of our covenant-keeping God and His indescribable beauty.”

    And so with that little experience, I’m finding that Bible journaling is not only fun and creatively challenging but it’s taking me, sometimes consciously, sometimes intuitively, in good, even prophetic directions!

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August prompt: rain

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Rain on roses in June

Raindrops on roses – in June

Here in the Lower Mainland of B.C. we haven’t had a drop of rain for all of July. This is a record for the first calendar month ever without any rain recorded at the Vancouver weather station!

By now lawns that aren’t watered are looking brown and thirsty. Forest fires are a very real threat due to the tinder-dry conditions. Still most local weather forecasters echo the bias of sun-lovers saying, when predicting showers, “Our luck has run out,” or “Not a great forecast,” even after such a long dry spell! That’s testimony, I guess, to how rain is no novelty   around here.

The Bible’s first mention of rain is not a happy one. The forty-day rain that  flooded the earth resulted in mass destruction of land and people. Only Noah and his family survived that flood – Genesis 7 & 8.

Noah's Ark - artist unknown

Noah’s Ark – Artist unknown

Most of the time, though, Bible writers view rain as a blessing. No doubt their views were influenced by rain’s scarcity in the Middle East. And so its coming is usually reason for celebration.

God is generally credited with sending rain (Job 5:10; Psalm 65:10; Amos 5:8). And He sends it indiscriminately on good and bad alike (Matthew 5:45).

Moses, when talking about Canaan describes it as “…a land … which drinks water from the rain of heaven” (Deuteronomy 11:11) and calls rain one of God’s “good treasures” (Deuteronomy 28:12).

Rain is also used as a symbol in the Bible.

  • Isaiah describes the way the rain and snow fall from heaven and water the earth as a picture of the way God’s word goes across the world accomplishing spiritual purposes (Isaiah 55:10,11).
House of Sand - Gutenberg project

House Built On Sand – Gutenberg project

  • The prophet Joel equates the predictability of the rainy season with how faithful God will be to restore His people from waywardness and spiritual drought when they repent and return to Him (Joel 2:23).
  • In one of Jesus’ stories rain serves as a test to show the foundational integrity of two houses—one built on sand, the other on rock. It’s a parable that pictures how important it is to build our lives on truth (Matthew 7:24-28).

What does the mention of rain conjure in your mind? Perhaps you experienced the spring floods in western Canada this year and rain has become a symbol of terror and destruction. Or maybe your experience is of a dry climate where rain is welcomed with dancing and celebration.

This month, I invite you to write about rain.

You might want to create a fictional piece where where rain plays a haunting part in the setting (like W. Somerset Maugham did in the short story “Rain”).

Maybe you’ll write about your feelings for or against rain, or what rain symbolizes to you physically, emotionally, or spiritually in a poem.

Or you might want to write about a true life experience when rain saved—or wrecked—the day.

pit, pit, pit, pat, pat, pit, pat…

No, that’s not rain. It’s the sound of my fingers on the keyboard, dancing up some literary rain!