Monday Morning Blog: “The Process Of Receiving Innovations From The Holy Spirit”
By: Richard Gazowsky ~
I remember walking with my family through the opulent halls of the Louvre in Paris. After an extensive journey to the heart of this world-class museum, we stepped into a pastel-colored massive room that focused on just one painting ~ the priceless Mona Lisa. To be honest with you, I was not approaching the painting, as would a refined connoisseur of excellent Renaissance artistic perfection. My interest at that time in my life was more centered upon fine machinery and it’s ability to do cool things; you know, manly things.
As I made my way through the pressing crowd towards Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, I couldn’t help but being overwhelmed by the obvious master-stroke that Leonardo had strategically placed within the intricate detail of the painting; and it was there as bold as the sun on the small five-hundred-year-old piece of canvass. The thing that really hit me at that moment was Mona Lisa’s smile. To me, just a young observer, it looked like the smile that must have been on the Mother Mary’s face the moment she discovered that she was to be the mother of the Messiah.
This famous smile, caused by the deft strokes of Leonardo’s practiced brush, later caught the attention of the art world and has made it the most valuable painting on planet earth. For years, in my ignorance, I thought this was a painting of mother Mary (which of course it wasn’t). But I must admit this misunderstanding helped me to appreciate the mastery of Leonardo and his divinely-talented brush strokes on the smile.
The word “master-stroke” denotes the art of the master’s touch that is so beautiful, creative and layered in its expressions that it could only be brought about by the touch of the Master of the universe, God Himself. This last week I had the privilege and honor to watch the hand of God perform a master-stroke of genius through my daughter, Rocki Starr, as she listened to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.
I had drove with her to Costco to pick up some groceries for the house, and as I approached the cashier she said, “Dad, would it be okay if I bought a small crate of blackberries?” I smiled as I said, “Yes, what’s the deal?” I knew something was churning in her spirit. She said, “The Holy Spirit just told me to make a blackberry pie for a family in our church.” I smiled because I knew she had the talent to make a Food Network masterpiece-of-a-pie from scratch.
Four days went by and I didn’t hear anything more about the pie. Then, as my daughter and I found ourselves upon a mountain and had finished praying and performing a simple prophetic act, she turned to me and said, “I have got to go home right now and make that blackberry pie.” Honestly, I had thought she had forgotten about the blackberries we had bought. But they were somewhere in the refrigerator awaiting their destiny…
Upon arriving at home she began the long extensive process of making the dough for the pie crust, as well as preparing the blackberries for their final destination inside the flaky buttery crust. Night had already begun to fall upon the sleepy houses in San Francisco and the fog had begun rolling down the streets ~ giving the city a mystic and mysterious ambiance. I had just settled into my favorite chair and was watching one of my favorite television shows, knowing that soon I would be so completely comfortable in my nightly routine that not even the Apocalypse could budge me.
Suddenly Rocki, with her winsome delicate demeanor, came next to my chair and said sweetly, “Daddy, can we deliver the pie to that family’s house now? I believe this is the right time.” Instantly a wave of excuses flooded my mind and seemingly every ache that my body had experienced in the last twenty years rose up in my brain to war against this intense apocalyptic event that was trying to break up my peaceful self-indulgent serenity. As soon as my flesh screamed out, “No!” the Holy Spirit reminded me of the words of the prophet Timothy Snodgrass, who said, “God is getting ready in the next three months to cut old things off in your life that shouldn’t be there so He can put in new things that will bless you.” Wow, that word was for me!
I quickly hopped out of my chair, rushed outside, and plopped into the car while Rocki held the hot blackberry pie that was filling the car with it’s luscious aroma. As we buzzed through the foggy streets of San Francisco, the scrumptious smell reminded me of a childhood experience. My mother had sent my brother and I to live for two weeks with some farmers in northern California so we could experience the rugged life on the farm. And yes, it was a shocking experience for my adolescent “citified” mind. I learned how to milk a cow, castrate sheep, and attempted to ride an unbroken horse. But the fondest memory of this experience was when the farmer’s wife excitedly woke me up one morning. She had just baked a blackberry pie and I saw her set it on the rugged windowsill to cool. She could see the longing hunger in my eyes as I stood there alone in the kitchen (not realizing that she had been working long before dawn to put that prize on its pedestal).
She then put her hand on my shoulder and said in the gentlest way, “Richard, when you come in from the chores tonight after supper, I’ll have one large piece of that pie reserved especially for you.” Man, I thought I had just been told by the president of the Motion Picture Academy that I was going to win an Oscar. All day long I labored for that pie, as the blood rushed through my veins like a cheetah. In fact, some of the workers on the farm commented, “Richard, what has gotten into you?” Man, I was learning the value of simple things and how they affect my larger life picture. Yes, that night I was rewarded with my special piece of blackberry pie. But what I remember most was the buildup to the final event ~ even more than the reward itself.
These were the thoughts that were racing through my mind as we pulled up to the destination of Rocki’s blackberry pie. As she went to the door, the person came out to receive their special gift. But the experience that happened in the next few moments had been impossible to predict, and it showed the beauty and layered excellence of God’s master-stroke. As Rocki handed the gift to the person, the flash of a nearby streetlight caught the tears in the person’s eye. For when Rocki started baking the pie that night, she had not known that the person had just experienced a monumental tragedy in their life. God was letting them know that He was there all the time ~ having someone bake them their favorite comfort food. Yes, the God of the universe thought their tragedy was of enough concern that He took time away from His busy activities in the cosmos to make sure their household had a fresh warm succulent butter-crusted blackberry pie personally delivered to them.
When Rocki returned to the car we sat there for a moment and let the tears flow, because we had just witnessed the wonder of the special moment of God’s love for someone in their sorrow. I couldn’t help thinking about the Scripture, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth on Him shall be saved.”
It has been many years since I first saw Leonardo’s Mona Lisa masterpiece. Yet the painting left such a lasting impression upon my young mind that I am just now beginning to understand the layers of genius that God placed upon Leonardo’s brush as He formed Mary’s enigmatic smile upon the canvas. You see, he caught the moment that the young virgin hid in her heart ~ the secret and glory that lay in her pregnant womb that was going to change the destiny of all of mankind. Her smile silently spoke volumes of understanding to the hordes of confused and misled religious powers that would accuse her purity as being wicked. Oh what a smile, what a master-stroke, what a dream to know your obedience to God will confuse the mighty rulers ~ while at the same time cause the simple childlike believers to rejoice.
Oh yes, I know Leonardo’s painting was not of mother Mary, but the message to me is still the same. I see the master-stroke of God that must have occurred when Mary smiled because she, and she alone, knew that the gift of God lay in her womb for the whole world. Though this was probably not intended by Leonardo, I believe it was orchestrated by God to assure me that He is going to do something wonderful in my life. And though others may misunderstand, the only reaction needed by me is to smile and giggle in my heart because I know what is really going on ~ it’s God’s master-stroke…
Richard Gazowsky pastors a church in San Francisco called A Place To Meet Jesus. He has directed the films, “Guardians” and “The Roman Trilogy.”
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A Place To Meet Jesus
1970 Ocean Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94127
1970 Ocean Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94127