Simply put, I read everything that Paul Tripp writes. I can’t afford to miss one word. He is the author of 20 books, but his latest title is unlike anything he’s ever written. For 30 years, Paul has been writing poetry, and he compiles 121 of his best gospel meditations in his new devotional, My Heart Cries Out. It’s a grace to welcome Paul to the farm’s front porch today…
Perhaps some of you know me by my books, but I am certain that very few of you will know this about me: I am a painter.
If I wasn’t doing the ministry of writing and speaking that God has called me to, I would be painting for a living. I’m very serious about it; I don’t even consider it a hobby.
I paint large, abstract metallic paintings. There are no objects in my paintings, like a tree or a horse.
When I get done with a work, it looks like a beaten-up, weathered metal surface.
I love abstraction and non-objective painting because it yanks me out of visual lethargy. Because I’m not painting the same thing over and over again, it’s impossible for me to become familiar with the subject.
I’ve found that through painting, I notice how amazing texture, color, shape, and chemistry is on the canvas.
When I notice elements of creation, I have no choice but to celebrate the glory and creativity of the Creator.
Painting is a common interest my wife Luella and I share. She is a gallery director and an art dealer; she’s been in the art world for many years.
Just the other day, we were mourning the fact that the bulk of humanity never realizes their creative potential. (It doesn’t have to be painting or anything “artistic” by that definition.)
I think a lot of that is due to fear—fear of it not working, fear of being made fun of, fear of not having any creative potential.
That fear is unbiblical. Everybody has creative ability of some kind within them.
As image-bearers of a creative Creator, there’s an endless range of how you can express that creativity.
Maybe it’s as simple as making a beautiful meal for your family and arranging the food creatively on the plate. Maybe it’s the way you decorate your house or plant a garden. Maybe it’s music.
Ask yourself every day: “How in my life do I image God as creator? How do I steward the creative gifts that He gives me? How can I be a hymn to His presence and His glory?”
I consider myself a painter, but I wouldn’t be quick to call myself a poet.
Yet I’ve found writing meditations in the form of verse to be a helpful way for me to creatively capture the intersection between God’s ever-present grace and my ever-present battle to live out of the resources of that grace while I walk my way through this sadly broken and dysfunctional world.
Here’s a meditation titled “But Never”:
You humble me,
but never humiliate me.
You confront me,
but never mock me.
You warn me,
but never abandon me.
You call me,
but never leave me alone.
You discipline me,
but never beat me up.
You command me,
but never fail to enable me.
You see into my heart,
but never reject me for what you see.
You teach me your mysteries,
but never make fun of how much I don’t know.
You stay near to me,
but you never tire of me.
You place your love on me,
but never withdraw it when I fail.
So I love you,
but I have come to understand that
my hope and security,
my present and my future,
my acceptance and identity,
my ability and potential,
are not in my love for you,
but in your shocking,
love for me.
We must remember that even in our creativity, there is no glory in this created world, no matter how beautiful, that can compete with the beauty of God’s rescuing, forgiving, transforming, empowering, and delivering grace.
There is no human achievement, no personal accomplishment, and no community victory that can do for us what God’s grace can do.
There is nothing that we can be given that can accomplish in us and for us what God’s grace can.
There is no other love that has the power to do what the amazing grace of God’s boundless love can do for us.
This grace really is so counterintuitive and mind-blowing that we will spend all of eternity performing exegesis on it, celebrating it, and worshiping the giver for it.
I wish I could commend
my righteousness to you,
but I can’t.
I wish I could brag of
my strength to you,
but I can’t.
I wish I could boast about my wisdom to you,
but I can’t.
I wish I could point you to my track record,
but I can’t.
I wish I could tell you that I have no regrets,
but I can’t.
You know me better than
I know myself.
I never escape your eye.
You search the deepest
regions of my heart.
You know my thoughts before
they are conscious to me.
You know my words before
I hear myself speak them.
You examine my desires before
they move me to action.
So without pretense or inadequate excuse,
stripped of pride and self-defense,
I bow before you,
devoid of demand or argument,
and I make one plea.
It is for your mercy.
I have come to accept
what you know of me,
and I cry for one thing—
Dr. Paul David Tripp is a pastor, international conference speaker, and award-winning author. He is best known for his daily devotional, New Morning Mercies. Paul’s driving passion in all he does is to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. With hundreds of articles, videos, and audio resources on marriage, parenting, pastoral ministry, suffering, sexuality, and more, there isn’t an area of your everyday life that Paul hasn’t covered.
In My Heart Cries Out Paul invites you into his personal reflections on his experience of God’s ever-present grace through the ups and downs of his life. He shares his celebrations, disappointments, cries for help, confessions, and confusions in the form of 120 meditations that were written over many years through various joys and struggles.
[ Our humble thanks to Crossway for their partnership in today’s devotion ]