The Philippians Flip

I have always been fascinated with different forms of art and how it has evolved through the generations. I especially enjoy paintings because you get a glimpse into the viewpoint and imagination of the artist. Nearly every painting tells a tale of what the artist valued or disliked. Paintings capture emotion and can tell the tale of what lies deep within a person. Different colors and different types of strokes can speak volumes about the artist’s frame of mind. Recently, I was intrigued by one of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. It was actually the last one he ever painted. It is titled “The Wheat Field”.

Van Gogh interpreted this painting for us. He told a family member the crows in the painting represent a sign of foreboding and death. The three paths leading into the field show the indecision we face in life. Even if we could decide which path to take, they are cut-off and end abruptly. The darkness of the skies indicates a storm coming in to destroy the field and any life that remained. Van Gogh painted this picture in July of 1890, and in the same month went out into the field and shot himself in the chest. He died three days later.

Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (NIV)

I have to wonder, if Van Gogh had applied this principle to his life that July would he have interpreted the painting the same way? Would he have gone out into the field and ended his life in such fashion? Perhaps the crows could have been a reminder of the glorious handiwork of God. They are magnificent creatures that have the ability to soar on the wind. Their black feathers shimmer with a rainbow of colors as the light dances around them. Instead of indecision, the paths could be viewed as opportunities to experience something new. The clouds that seem dark and threatening in the painting need not be a threat. Rather, they could be seen as God’s provision of rain for the golden crop growing in the field. They are not meant to destroy life, but to bring life.

We face many situations in life everyday and we must choose whether to see them as something negative or something positive. I am dismayed at how many times I hear people attribute a circumstance to Satan. “Satan must be attacking; I had a flat tire this morning.” “Satan is fighting to keep me down; so many bad things have happened lately.” Why give Satan so much credit?! He is not omnipotent. He is not omnipresent! Certainly he attacks, but what better way to resist him than to find the good in what is happening.

I like to call it the Philippians flip. Whenever I am faced with a situation, I can choose to find all that is bad about it, or I can look on the flip side. What is truth? God is in control. He has good things planned for me. What is noble and right? Because the Holy Spirit dwells within me, I have the ability to respond with a smile, with kindness, with humility, with patience, and so on. I can focus on all that is wrong or I can focus on what God is doing in the moment. Do I look at a crow and see a predator and scavenger or do I see the intricate design of his feathers? Can I be amazed and stand in awe that my Creator God made such an animal to keep His world clean. Every circumstance is an opportunity to see God at work. Every situation is an opportunity for growth. But, it is our responsibility to dwell on things that are true and good. Look for the flip-side!

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