The Hummingbird Pause, Selah | 24" x 36" acrylic on canvas
Back home from a powerful weekend at the Levite Summit in Red Deer, AB. What an amazing time of worship, painting, soaking in God's presence and gleaning from wisdom of others teaching. Spending time in prayer, connecting with others... it was just good. I think everyone needs to take at least one time a year to spend time with your tribe, be stretched to learn more, to be inspired and challenged and lets not forget the best part... pause to hear God's voice (well, that should be daily). Although I was there as a presenter, I was also there as a student. Thank you Levite Summit for inviting me to be part of what you are doing for the Kingdom Creatives!
So what's "the hummingbird pause" you might ask? Selah?
Let me take you through the process of how I came to paint this. It will give you a window into how I hear from the Lord. (It's like a super fun treasure hunt, where He reveals more and more along the journey.)
About a week before the Levite Summit, I texted Amy (the best events manager of their ministry) and simply asked, "in one word can you tell me a theme for the conference?" She replied, "Selah."
Ok then... selah. Hmmm... I knew that word was used all over the Psalms. So I looked it up. What does selah mean in the Bible?
"The word selah is found in two books of the Bible, but is most prevalent in the Psalms, where it appears 71 times. It also appears three times in the third chapter of the minor prophet Habakkuk.
There is a great deal of uncertainty about the meaning of selah. Most versions of the Bible do not attempt to translate selah but simply transliterate the word straight from the Hebrew.
One possibiliy is that Selah is thought to be rendered from two Hebrew words: s_lah, “to praise”; and s_lal, “to lift up.” Another commentator believes it comes from salah, “to pause.” From salah comes the belief that selah is a musical notation signifying a rest to the singers and/or instrumentalists who performed the psalms. If this is true, then each time selah appears in a psalm, the musicians paused, perhaps to take a breath, to sing a cappella, or to let the instruments play alone. Perhaps they were pausing to praise the One about whom the song was speaking, perhaps even lifting their hands in worship. This theory would encompass all these meanings—“praise,” “lift up,” and “pause.” (Got Questions)
So I prayed, Lord what is the picture you are wanting me to paint to reflect the theme "selah." In my minds eye, I see a hummingbird flying by and drink from a flower. I hear the Lord say, "the hummingbird pause."
I have learned over time how God speaks to me, usually in a short picture or I hear him speak a simple phrase. I've learned to not overthink it, I know the Lord is showing me something. That is when the fun begins... now I get to dig in deeper with Him to see what He's talking about.
I thought to myself, "does a hummingbird pause?" I knew the hummingbird has the fastest wings of all the birds, this phrase felt like an oxymoron. Of all the words to put with a hummingbird, pause didn't seem like an attribute to their nature when flying. So... I look it up: "does a hummingbird pause?"
The first article that popped up on my computer was titled, "Even Hummingbirds Pause" by Eileen Rockefeller. What! I laughed a little... so they do pause! This is what it reads,
"Hummingbirds’ wings beat at an astonishing rate of forty to ninety times per second. They are birds on steroids, darting with precision from one flower to the next to drink nectar. A friend of ours, who made a nature documentary, showed me a clip of a hummingbird pausing in mid-air. His camera takes one thousand frames per minute. What a mind-boggling discovery to learn that even hummingbirds pause! This knowledge has me wondering: If, in the rush hour of ornithological flight, even the fastest wings stop, shouldn’t we humans take a hint? Cameras, cars, and email interfere. Nature offers balance."
WOW! Should we humans take a hint from nature?
God speaks to me so much through nature, while painting the Bible I noticed God in nature, he spoke through his creation, he used creation as teaching metaphors for us. Reading this article I knew what the Lord was showing me: in our busy lives, in this world of distraction and constant busyness, we must take time to pause, to praise, to selah, and "drink in deeply" from God's nectar, His Spirit. The nectar is the life source for hummingbirds, and spiritually speaking, our life source is to "drink deeply" of God's presence through the Holy Spirit. To pause is the only way to sustain us, to balance us between life duties and filling up spiritually in His presence. It's the connection to Him we need to hear him clearly.
Oh ya, there was another detail... the flower! My absolute favourite part to paint... what flower would add to the depth of meaning in this painting, I thought to myself? I googled what flowers hummingbirds love to eat from, and yes... this was the first one that came up... A bleeding heart.
Ok... now it speaks an even deeper message! The bleeding heart represent passionate love between two people, a spiritual connect. The first thing I thought of is Jesus's ultimate display of love for us, his sacrifice and death on the cross. He bled to atone for our sins, so we can be forgiven and have the gift of salvation. Jesus is the bleeding heart.
"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" (Hebrews 9:14)
Wow! I was so excited to paint this... little did I know how much more it would unfold when I got to the Levite Summit. I didn't tell anyone there what I was going to paint or the meaning I was hearing from the Lord. I now go into everything I do now with an expectation that God will show up in ways I don't even know or expect. What will he do through a simple painting of a hummingbird? It's always an adventure walking with Jesus. We just have to listen and be obedient to his direction, even when we don't know the full outcome. And be attentive to see Him move.
While on stage painting, God spoke to my spirit in more layers through the speakers testimonies, in worship and in feelings I can't describe in words. And I always cry now... after painting the Bible, I get overwhelmed by God's presence, I just cry. (It's a good cry though!)
As the artist, God always saves the best part for me... at the end, there is usually one person in the crowd that God is speaking to through the painting. (there may be more, but he usually sends me one.)
A woman politely came up to me at the end of the service, I noticed her tears. She quietly said, "you painted this just for me." I started crying, I felt the love of the Father for this woman so strongly. She proceeded to tell me, "before you painted the hummingbird, I knew if it was a bird, it was a word for me." God knows birds are her thing. And when I painted specifically a hummingbird, she cried. A hummingbird is "her bird." (she was even wearing a hummingbird t-shirt that day!!) Crazy! It spoke straight to her heart of some deep inner healing she needs in her life. God knew she would be there that day and knew everything about this precious daughter of His. He was healing wounds of her past, healing her heart through a painting of a hummingbird drinking deeply of the bleeding heart.
As her tears fell, I prayed for her and watched God touch her. I don't know all the areas God was touching in this beautiful girl, but I was blown away by his loving nature to the one he chose in the crowd.
I thanked God for this woman. He's a God of the individual, he created you, knows right where you are at. He wants to draw you to Him and say, "I'm right here with you." He also knows me so well, that I love seeing "the one" touched by the art... it gives me the awe and wonder of his intricate ways through divine connections.
As you ponder this week and celebrate a day of LOVE, Valentine's Day, may you remember to pause, praise Him, drink deeply from the nectar of bleeding heart who loves you so intricately.
We need you Lord. Your presence is the only thing that sustains us in life.
"but drink deeply of God's Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and offer praise in your hearts to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:19)
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
Share the gift of art & please share this with someone who needs the message today.