John the Baptist looks forlorn. I can almost hear him sigh. He is so discouraged by the Messiah, who isn’t what he expected, that he cannot see the beauty around him or the Lamb of God beside him.
This painting has been dubbed John the Baptist with big feet. Doesn’t he remind us of ourselves? We struggle so hard, do so much to help others. And when things don’t turn out the way we expected, we are disappointed. What else can I do? we say. I’m at the end of my rope.
Yes. That is precisely the place where we find God: at the end of our rope, when there is nothing more we can do. God is waiting for us there.
If the Lamb could talk, he would likely say to John, Thank you for preparing the way for me. Don’t worry, I’ll do everything I promised. You’ll see.
And what would Jesus, sitting beside you in your helplessness, say next? Perhaps you should ask him.
Disappointment. Discouragement. Helplessness. These are unexpected thin places where God dwells as surely and as beautifully as a beach near Tofino or a cabin on Bowen.
When I shared my poem about thin places and Jaison Cianelli’s painting with artists in my church, two women were inspired to write a song. Here is the refrain:
I have stumbled on a place where
the air is thin.
In the midst of wilderness
God is closer than my breath.
It doesn’t make any sense.
In the midst of wilderness, nothingness, and brokenness, they wrote, “God is closer than my breath.” In the midst of loneliness, despair and helplessness, God will come and sit beside us, comfort us and open our eyes to see more than our disappointments.
The Lord is near. -Philippians 4:5b