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5 January - Lessons From Van Gogh

I recently went an exhibition of Vincent Van Gogh's art, who is often referred to as the most famous artist in the world, although he was not widely appreciated during his lifetime. Van Gogh is known for his expressive and emotive use of brilliant colour and energetic application of paint. His innovative and unique artistic style was of enormous importance to artists who followed after him. But Van Gogh is also perceived by many as the 'mad' artist, the man who painted in a frenzy or simply the tormented soul who cuts off his ear and then shot himself. He wanted to find his place in the world and tried various vocations before settling on painting, and really was a struggling creative genius seeking acceptance, success and meaning in his life.

Lessons From Van Gogh

I think a lesson from Van Gogh's life, is to be careful not to focus solely upon our own need for self expression, success and happiness. If these things become our primary goal we can become so self absorbed with our own desires and people thinking well of us, that we miss the opportunity to use our gifts and talents to bless those around us.

From time to time Van Gogh seemed to grasp the revelation that love and the choice to love much should be our primary goal. If we make our life all about our creative expression and the pursuit of success, we will inevitably find it all meaningless and empty in the end.

It is good to love many things, for therein lies strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done with love is well done. (Vincent Van Gogh)

As King Solomon in the Bible wisely wrote,

"I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.

My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done, and what I had toiled to achieve,

everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun."(Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)

Solomon pursued the treasures of this world to the extent that he achieved them all, only to come to the same conclusion each time that life is void of meaning and purpose without God.

"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part...And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:4-9)

Today I encourage you in the midst of these pursuits to take a lesson from Van Gogh who paid a high price for his desire for success and self-expression, and yet knew that love was the most important thing in life, and King Solomon who concluded that life is void of meaning and purpose without God.

"I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people." (Vincent Van Gogh)

Prayer: Lord, please help me to keep a balance in my life and to understand what and who is the most important in life. Let me love and accomplish much in love. In Jesus name Amen.

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