It’s a New Day…

“A New Day,” © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2017 Lynn Abbott

I couldn’t have been more than five at the time.  My cousin’s visit had helped make it the best Christmas vacation I could ever remember.

And I was determined that I would not be parted from my beloved cousin.  Our Christmas holiday would never end.

Forget returning to school.  Never mind my big brother’s merciless taunts.  Allison and I would face the world together.  So I packed my bags with all the determination of a stubborn five-year-old, and made my stand.  Right next to my cousin.

“What are you doing?” my mother inquired, suppressing a smile.

“I’m going to Allison’s house,” I announced.

I’m sure you can imagine the rest of that day’s conversation. I didn’t get to ride in my cousin’s car to Los Angeles that day.

But I knew I had made my point: if things didn’t go my way, I was packing my bags.

I suspect that there’s a tendency toward some degree of “bag packing” in all of us.

After all, work pressures overwhelm us.  People snap at us.  Even torment us.

The holidays pass too quickly, or perhaps, for some of us, not quickly enough.

Laundry avalanches.

The children’s school activities exhaust us.

We fail to meet others’ expectations despite our best efforts.

Sinking under the load, we long to prolong Christmas vacation. Sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it?

I knew I had made my point: if things didn’t go my way, I was packing my bags.

And so, you and I pack our bags.

Yup.  “I’m outta here,” I say.

“I’ve had it,” I mutter.

“See ya later, Alligator!” I cry.

And I head off independently to find my “better” way.

Funny that.  It never seems to work out quite the way I expect.

I usually find myself in a terrible mess before Abba steps in graciously to rescue me from my “better” plan.

I think, perhaps, that’s why the account of Onesimus so resonates with me.   If anyone had a right to look for an escape, Onesimus did.

His story unfolds for us in Paul’s epistle to Philemon.  Philemon, a wealthy believer, lived in Colossae which was located in the geographical region that is now Turkey.

As we read the book, we put the back story pieces together: Onesimus was a Roman slave.  Of course, at this point, we should note that God does not sanction slavery in any way.

In fact, as I thumb through Scripture, it becomes apparent that slavery always signifies the state from which Christ rescues us.  And God took great pains to rescue His people from slavery to Pharoah.

Obviously, in no way, does God approve slavery.  Again and again, He calls His beloved children to freedom.

If anyone had a right to look for an escape, Onesimus did.

Yet, God recognizes that humanity often pursues practices that are outside of His will.  For this reason, He gave His people perimeters by which to curb those cultural practices that fell outside of His perfect will, those human choices that He hates (Exodus 21:1-2).

In other words, Scripture acknowledges negative human behaviors, but it doesn’t condone those practices.  Instead, God’s Spirit seeks to radically transform our human relationships one step at a time.

The Mosaic law simply defined God’s “in the meantime” for His people.

Unfortunately for Onesimus, he lived an “in the meantime” that most of us would long to escape. And so, at first opportunity, he made his break–double time.  Forget the bags. He was outta there.

Likely, he took money from his master for his long journey.   His destination?  Rome.

The major metropolis provided the anonymity he sought.  But the runaway soon discovered that he wasn’t truly free. Fear of recapture likely dominated his thoughts.

To make matters worse, he probably went hungry when his funds ran low. Since he needed to stay under the Roman radar, he had no legal way to work.

Scripture doesn’t tell us how he met Paul, but Paul’s letter to Philemon indicates that not only did Onesimus meet Paul but that he also met Paul’s Savior.

And in his letter, the apostle pleads with the wealthy Colossian to receive Onesimus with mercy, love and grace.

What’s up with that? Receive the runaway?  Onesimus wanted to return to slavery?

Not likely.

The Mosaic law simply defined God’s “in the meantime.”

But I suspect that as Onesimus grew in faith under Paul’s teaching, he confessed all to Paul.  Here’s the good part.

Turns out that Philemon, Onesimus’ former master, had come to Christ through Paul’s teaching.

Undoubtedly, God had orchestrated all for Onesimus’ welfare.  Seeking to make things right with Philemon was a risk, of course.  Nevertheless, Abba paved the way for Onesimus through Paul.

You see, Christ dramatically transforms the way we approach relationships. 

And although faith in Him does not mean that we or our circumstances are immediately transformed, we nevertheless are called to demonstrate, however imperfectly, the values of Messiah’s coming kingdom.

As Christ’s new disciple, Onesimus understood that.

Paul obviously believed that Philemon embraced Abba’s Grace as well.

You see, Christ dramatically transforms the way we approach relationships.

In his letter, the apostle offered to make restitution on Onesimus’ part, (Philemon 18). Paul then asks Philemon to both remember and give God’s amazing grace.

Paul also asked Philemon to receive Onesimus as Philemon would receive Paul himself: “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me,” (Philemon 17).

Wow. This is even bigger than the story of the Prodigal Son.  Onesimus did not begin as a son but as a slave.  And this slave, this one considered “less than human” by Rome, was to be received as a brother.

Christ not only transformed Onesimus’ heart (I Corinthians 5:17) but gave him new significance. Paul called the once renegade slave by name, “Useful.”

And Grace provides you and me with a new identity in Christ as well.

No longer slaves.

Now a dear brother or sister in the LORD.

And in turn, you and I pass that grace along to others.  Just as Philemon did.

Indeed, it’s a new day.

And as we obey Christ, God’s grace goes before us, orchestrating blessing even in life’s toughest moments…

At work.

At home.

In school.

In social situations.

In life’s whatevers, Abba bestows forgiveness and ultimately transforms human relationships.

He grants strength for that next step. His Grace forges a path. He is able to bring good even from our worst mess.

You betcha.  Onesimus teaches me that God is able to grant new beginnings even after I’ve thrown in the towel or packed my bags.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers,” ~Galatians 6:9-10

84 Replies to “It’s a New Day…”

    1. Ahh, well, you have found me out, Julie! 😉 I taught English Literature and Writing for 4 years after my stint as a journalist. Yup. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. 😉 Thank you for your kind words, my dear friend! Hope your dental work pain will subside soon! Praying for you since I read of it! Love and gentle, healing hugs! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have always enjoyed the book of Philemon, imagining all that may have passed between master and slave and apostle. Beautiful story with so many lessons. Thank you for bringing it to life.

    Like

    1. So true, Meredith! I’m so glad you love the book of Philemon, too! I wish we could sit around the kitchen table, enjoy some hot chocolate and discuss our favorite parts of the story. But I am grateful for how God has introduced me to you here in the blogosphere and for our virtual friendship! God bless you greatly in 2018!

      Like

  2. It’s the close of another year and our family have lost two loved ones. We have survived the holidays and have strong faith. When I come here in the evening to scan the art web sites it’s great to find your site so beautiful and filled with food for the soul. Thank you for being here. Your art brings so much peace and quiet that is needed when under stress and grieving. Sending you Happy New Year’s wishes for good health and many blessings.

    Like

    1. Oh Geri, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I have grieved much, and I know it is a difficult journey. My prayers are with you this evening… that God will wrap you in His comfort and peace. Thank you with all my heart for your kind encouragement here. It means the world to me. God bless you and yours greatly in 2018! Hugs!

      Like

    1. Oh, thank you, Jeff! Your words buoy me because I have wondered in the past what art can contribute to the Kingdom. Thank you with all my heart for your encouragement! I am grateful for whatever way God can use what I offer Him. God bless you greatly in 2018, Jeff!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Lynn, I just read through Philemon the other day and I noted that Paul didn’t beat about the bush, so to speak, but had no problem letting Philemon know that he (Philemon) was indebted to Paul himself, which I thought was pretty gutsy and Paul offered to personally pay back any outstanding financial debt on behalf of Onesimus, to Philemon, which meant that Onesimus had obviously told Paul what he had done. Making wrongs right, even when it meant returning to a practise that was not supported by God’s principle’s. I’m pretty sure Paul did not support the ownership of one child of God to another child of God and yet we see Paul advocating that Onesimus return, probably to diminish any probable harm that could have resulted by his running away and to foster reconciliation. Government systems are not always perfect, in fact, they are usually far from it, and yet we see both Jesus and Paul advocating accepting the status quo, albeit, within limits that don’t violate our worship and allegiance to our Lord. It’s not always easy and it seldom is perfect. I ran across a statement from my Christian brother BJ, who currently ministers in Turkey, that puts into words so much of what I see happening today. His statement is “Instead of realizing that it is only through the church that we can fix our world, we are trying to use the systems of the world to fix our church.” I don’t know how you feel about that but it rang true for me. Hard decisions to be made in difficult times. When push comes to shove, I believe we are called to build up the church if at all possible, rather than tearing it down or advocating walking away from it. And even then, there may and probably will come a time when the state sanctioned Church will have to be abandoned and the real Church will basically go underground, like it currently does in China and Russia and other parts of the world. Hard decisions in difficult times. Sorry for going off topic but I thought that Paul’s letter to Philemon actually has practical applications for us today. Blessings as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Bruce! I understand the origin of your thoughts here. So no worries. And you have hit on some keen insights. I’ve read your post, and responded. And I am in agreement that I can make a difference in the church. Just not enough time to respond at length today… I am going out of town tomorrow and so must get caught up on my work before I go. But know that I appreciate you, and your thoughtful study and application of God’s Word! I’m grateful for your blog.

      Like

  4. Excellent post, Lynn, and great job on teaching from he book of Philemon. This is one of the gems of the Bible, and whenever I take on a new Sunday school class, I always spend one class on this book. The lessons are amazing, and I usually point out that that during our lifetimes, all of us are one of the three (sometimes all three at different times): Philemon, the one who was wronged; Onesemis, the one who caused the wrong; or Paul, the mediator put in a very tough spot. The question is, how to we react in each situation.

    Anyway, again, great post, Lynn, and have a wonderful 2018!

    Like

    1. Yes, David! Philemon is one of my faves as well. Such a beautiful book of grace and forgiveness. I love how you relate that we all play one of the three roles at some point in our lives! How true! That’s an incredible insight. Thank you! God bless you, my wise friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great post, Lynn. I liked when you said, “Christ dramatically transforms the way we approach relationships. ”

    I also liked when you said, “Grace provides you and me with a new identity in Christ as well.

    No longer slaves.

    Now a dear brother or sister in the LORD.”

    This should be a reminder to all of us whether Christian or non-believer that we are no longer slaves to fear but children of God.

    This post reminded me that despite our circumstances, God can still dramatically affect our relationships in order to reveal to us our flaws and strengths. Onesimus is an example of this becuase while running, he found Christ and was later embraced by Philemon.

    Thank you for the post, Lynn; this reminds me of a song by Bethel Music called, “No Longer Slaves (Child of God)”

    If you would like to listen to the song, the link is below:

    https://youtu.be/f8TkUMJtK5k .

    Like

    1. Oh, it’s an absolutely beautiful worship song, Josh! Thank you! And thank you for your thoughtful comment. You have brought out some incredible truth… “God can still dramatically affect our relationships in order to reveal to us our flaws and strengths.” That is a thought that I will be meditating upon for some time. God bless you, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ‘I usually find myself in a terrible mess before Abba steps in graciously to rescue me from my “better” plan.’ love the honesty – the honesty maybe rare but the ‘rescue from my “better” plan is the story of everyone’s life – we just need to admit it, Christ follower and Christ denier a like

    Like

  7. Loved this, Lynn!!! Ah, there were days when I was little I too thought, “What if I could just live with my best friend?” Christ gives us a new start, and a new beginning. You’re right.
    We need the heart of our child to stay fresh with this perspective. Each day is new with Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Just Googled “How many people go to see Michaelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel?” The answer I found was 5 million per year. Art would seem to have quite an impact on the Kingdom, at least sometimes. We all can make a difference in the world and you obviously do reading how much people enjoy your posts. Have a safe trip.

    Like

  9. Wow, Lynn, your art and your heart never cease to amaze me! You are such an excellent student of the Word and teacher thereof! Not to mention, your art is amazing! As I mention often, you truly have the gift of encouragement, and this post fully encouraged my heart as we go into a New Year…filled with God’s faithfulness going before us, being with us and staying behind us, covering our backs! He truly is a great and mighty God! ✝️☝🏻🎉 May He continue to bless your art, writing, realationships and life in every way! 💖💖💖 (P.S. I had a big brother who taunted me too…and we moved across country when I was 9, away from my favorite cousin…we’re only 4 months apart in age. I packed my bag and tried to run away once…never worked for me either! ^_^) Love you so…💕💕💕

    Like

    1. Oh, Dori! We just keep finding more and more common ground! True kindred spirits! And you are such a beautiful encourager, Dori! Thank you for your lovely words here! I’m so grateful to you for your friendship, your kindness and your example of godliness! I’m thanking God for the blessing of your friendship in 2017, and looking forward to sharing more with you in 2018! Love and Huge Hugs, my dear friend and sister! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s so cool, Wally! And thank you! I wish I could have included more of my thoughts here… I ended up cutting half of what I’d written as a kindness to my regular readers…just too long a post during such a busy time of year. But the book of Philemon is so rich with truth! Happy New Year, my friend!

      Like

  10. Beautiful story, Lynn!! And I am so in love with the painting you shared, too. 🙂 ❤ I've only read Philemon once, I think, but I didn't study it enough to truly take to heart the story of the two men you talked about today. Now I'm very curious – thank you for inspiring me! I'll definitely be reading it again soon. xx

    Like

  11. Thank you for this encouraging insight, Lynn. I so identify with this statement – “I usually find myself in a terrible mess before Abba steps in graciously to rescue me from my “better” plan.” He is so gracious to rescue us from the plans we think are better than His and to help us take His hand to follow His plan, isn’t He? Your farm scene painting gives me nostalgic feelings. I loved growing up on a farm. 🙂 Have a Blessed 2018! Hugs!

    Like

    1. Yes, I totally agree, Trudy! So grateful that our Heavenly Father rescues me from my “plans.” And you are fortunate growing up on a farm! I spent my teenage years in a rural area and many of my friends were farmer’s kids. I remember spending time at one friend’s home. They owned a dairy, and we had fresh milk and rode horses. Wonderful. This painting is of a farm across the road from the little subdivision where I live. It’s lovely. Happy 2018 to you, my wonderful friend! Hugs back!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. @Lynn

    That’s not a portion of scripture I have heard much addressed. Yet what the Bible has to say about slavery very much confuses people. So I appreciate your excellent insights. Thank you.

    Like

    1. Thanks, Tom! I could have written more, but my posts already tend long as it is. So, I tried to slip as much in while still maintaining the primary theme of my post. I’m so grateful for your encouraging feedback. You’re a great friend. God bless you big time!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Great Message Lynn with much Truth and also offering a wonderful assurance of God’s Love for us. Now let me see if I can remember how many times I have packed my Bags and yes ended in a mess…

    Hmmmm I have lost count! but I do remember saying to my Boss when I was 15 that I was very Intelligent and knew everything, he looked at me with a smile and no doubt was thinking; “Baby you’ll learn” and yes I’m still learning and for someone who was so Intelligent I made heaps of mistakes in my life and packed many Bags much more than once.

    May God’s Blessings and His constant Love never leave our thoughts.
    Christian Love Always – Anne.

    Like

    1. Oh, yes, Anne! I know we can all relate to your story! I truly love your authenticity and grace. Thank you for sharing this here. I know it will bless others as it has me! God bless you beyond all that you can ask or think, my godly friend! ❤ and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Lynn, thank you for your Uplifting responses to my Comments and your Wonderful Loving Encouragement. (((BIG HUGS))) to you too.

        I have been wondering Lynn what you feel about Children Coloring in Pictures and if it helps them in their Art expression? did you Color in as a Child?

        Blessings – Anne.

        Like

      2. Yes, Anne. I did color. But not frequently with coloring books. They were an expense that my parents couldn’t often afford. And so I drew my own pictures and colored on scrap paper. I’m not sure about today’s coloring books. My son is all grown up and I’m not a grandparent. Thus, I don’t know if the images are as innocent as they once were. I’m not particularly fond of the adult coloring books that have become so popular. But then, I tend to be cautious about what I put in my mind and I believe you are cautious as well. 🙂 Hope that helps answers your question. Love and Hugs!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you Lynn and yes I agree Rubbish in Rubbish out and so yes I’m very careful what I read, listen to and focus on, some Blogs I have visited have promoted what was not acceptable so I moved on the same with Cult Blogs. Adult Coloring Books can be very much the Pitts too and so can some Childrens.

    In Queensland Lynn perhaps in other States too, Children in Pre Schools are no longer allowed to Color-In Pictures including Christian Pre Schools, which means Christian Websites are also no longer needed to provide them with free Christian Coloring Pictures, that is why I asked if you feel that it helps in their Art expression or do you feel it is not needed?

    Blessings – Anne.

    Like

    1. Well, I do think that coloring books help young artists to see the world like an artist… everything we see is made up of shapes… and the simple outlines in coloring books can help highlight that. So, I guess my simple answer to your question is “yes” … I think coloring books can be helpful in teaching children to create art. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Lynn and yes others I have asked have said the same and I believe it is True too having been in Ministry to Children most of my Adult life and even before and yes they love Coloring in Pictures and drawing them sometimes too. I find that it calms or relaxes them and they also like to share their finished Pictures. The ones they give me I laminate and put them on what I call my Joy Wall and when friends Visit they often remark how well done they are.

        I’m looking forward to catching up on your recent Posts tonight Lynn, thanks again for your helpful advice. – Anne.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Lynn, my Comment below disappeared, this has happened before on other Blogs please check your Spam for the first one or check with WordPress in case it happens to your other Followers too.

    Thank you Lynn for your Kind and Loving words of Encouragement, they are always very much appreciated.

    Having lost 7 Children at Birth or during late gestation who are now in Heaven, yes we will be Reunited of that I have no doubts, I lost them mostly because of a Blood disorder that they didn’t know about in those days but God has filled my life with other People’s Children and I have Wonderful Memories, I hope you don’t mind my sharing about one of them with you Lynn.

    In my younger years I was working in an Orphanage for almost 4 years this was before I became a Governance, both were live in Positions. I looked after 27 girls all ages and 7 Boys who went to a Boy’s Orphanage when they turned 5. They use to give me their Mother’s day cards and other notes they had written or their Coloring In, mostly they did these at School but I use to give them some to do too during the Holidays or after School and in the Weekends.

    Most of the Children were Child cruelty cases and they often had Nightmares, I use to sit with them until they calmed down talking and singing to them late at night. One little 3 year old girl was unable to talk because of the cruelty she had experienced and I found it hard to calm her in the dormitory, I would take her to my room so she did not continue to disturb the other Children and this seemed to settle her more quickly too. One Morning she woke me up and said Mommy I Love you, what’s for breaky, of course she was copying some of the other older Children but I cried with Joy and still do when I remember her first Childlike Loving words to me. Yes Praise God I have been a Mom to many Children over the years and now I’m Grannie Annie.

    Blessings dear Lynn from a Thankful Blog follower
    Anne ( Grannie Annie )

    Like

    1. Anne, I don’t know where to check for spam on the blog…I’m so sorry… I don’t know what happened. I was rather late moderating my comments yesterday. Since I am a full-time professional and working artist, I have to squeeze my blogging in either before or after my work. So it could be that I have since posted your comment and that it wasn’t lost but that I was simply late to check on comments for my blog?

      I’m so very sorry to hear that you have had so many miscarriages. That is so heartbreaking! I lost my firstborn son. He was stillborn. My heart broke…I can’t imagine losing 7 children… I wish I could give you a huge hug, and that we could share a cup of tea…and you could tell me about each one. I’m extraordinarily grateful, though, that you and I will one day be reunited with our “lost” children. That truly brings comfort, doesn’t it? I’m also extremely glad that you were able to have such a profound role in the lives of so many motherless children. What a ministry God gave you! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story about the little girl who did not speak until she spoke words of love for you! Your story brought tears of joy to my eyes! And what a wonderful grandmum you must certainly be! Yes, I, too, praise God for His blessings even in the midst of our “heartbreaks.” Thank you for encouraging and inspiring me today, dear Anne! You are a blessing to me and many! ❤ and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I wish I could give you a Big (((HUG ))) too Lynn, understanding how you must have grieved for the death of your Baby Boy but yes how wonderful that we all will be reunited with our Babies and all our Loved ones that are in Heaven.

    But what is even more heartbreaking Lynn is that my first Baby was Aborted when I was not yet 15, the Link is below and it is why I stand strongly against Abortion, although I knew I was forgiven I still felt up to only a few months ago when I found about my blood disorder, that I could have been responsible because of the Abortion for my other babies deaths, 3 Still Born Girls and 3 at nearly 5 mths gestation.

    Abortion – https://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/mommy-please-love-me

    Yes God forgave me showing His Amazing Love and Compassion and He has also greatly Blessed me by Miraculous Healings and Signs and Wonders, none of which I deserved but than does anyone, everyone put Jesus on the Cross because all have Sinned but it took me many years to understand this reality and I grieved greatly for the wrong I had done to me Baby and was full of shame but today I’m set free and give Heartfelt Thanks to our Awesome God of Love.

    Bless you Lynn for your Heart felt Love for others too, which you show to all those whose lives you touch, reminding them of God’s great Love and His Eternal Hope.

    Anne (Grannie Annie )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Anne! I had no idea! I’m so very sorry that you lived with that burden for so long. And yes, I am very glad that He showed you that the abortion was not responsible for your other losses. Huge, huge hugs to you, my wonderful friend! ❤

      Like

  17. It is indeed a new day! I don’t know how I missed this post because I wait with anticipation for each of your “lessons”, knowing well that God has something to say to me! You never fail to inspire and encourage. Life may beat us down but Lynn will lift you up through the Power and Strength of His Holy Word as she applies it to everyday situations. Thank you wonderful friend. Have a joyous day. And I love the painting. It reminds me of the farm I grew up on and gives me a great sense of Home. ❤️ Love you, Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Deb… you are much too kind to me! Thank you with all my heart! You know how I much admire your writing, and so your encouragement means the world to me! I didn’t realize you grew up on a farm! Fortunate you! The farm in the painting is across the road from our home. I love it. Love you more, though 😉 ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s