Starry Starry Nights
No-one would have called him successful. He was a quiet, introspective child. When he grew up he tried his hand at dealing art. Quitting that when his surroundings became depressing he served as a missionary to Belgium for some time before returning home to live with his parents. His younger brother supported him financially and the two kept up quite the correspondence. He painted a lot. He drank a lot. He cut off his own ear. He spent some time in a psychiatric hospital or two. He killed himself. On this foundation much of the history of Western art is built. In roughly ten torturous years Vincent van Gogh produced 2,100 artworks, 860 of which are without question some of the best Post-Impressionist paintings ever imagined, one of which is my absolute favorite. I love The Starry Night. There are no rules to my arguably good taste. I might like something everyone loves or love something no-one likes but whatever I'm fixed on I'm fixed on that. Hard. So when Kristen and I were blessed to be at Women Ministering to Women in New York City there was just one thing we had to do. We had to go to the Museum of Modern Art and we had to see The Starry Night. I had already gone all the way to London and not seen The Globe Theater (we're not going to talk about it) and I was not missing the opportunity to see this painting. No arguing. No questions. I had to see it.
Service ran long. (Thank the Lord. What a beautiful move of His presence we experienced that day.) We had to be on Broadway to pick up our Anastasia tickets at seven that night. The museum opened too late for us to make it the following morning without missing our flight. I had spoken that morning, and not eaten all day. (Because who has time for food? Obviously Jesus first, and then I'm trying to get to MOMA.) To further complicate matters our beautiful tour guide Sarah, (whom we would have been HOPELESS without) had learned how to perfectly navigate the subway, but the schedule changes on the weekends. The minutes ticked by, the trip was endless, I looked across at Kristen and I told her: "It's just a painting. It's just a thing. That's not even why we're here. I release this. It's okay. It will not ruin our night." I cried a little.
We got off one subway line and hopped on to another. The minutes continued to tick by so Sarah and I decided we would all just get off at the next stop though we didn't even know what was there and Kristen and I would Uber to the theater.
Y'all. I was trying to be brave and I was trying to be fun but my heart was sad.
Y'all. We made our way onto the escalator and I looked to the right and the wall was plastered with posters that said "MOMA."
"Why do all these posters say 'MOMA' guys? Why? Why!?! Why!?!" I was not even remotely pretending to be calm. When we exited that subway station the Museum of Modern Art was right. across. the. street. We had twenty minutes. We booked it. Ran in. Bought tickets. Checked bags. "Where's the Van Gogh m'aam? You know the one." Made it to the right level of the building. Couldn't find it. Power walking past mesmerizing beauty all around us and could not locate the thing. Kristen kept saying "Just ask someone" and I kept snapping "No. I need to find it myself. I need to find it myself!" because I was genuinely near hysteria. All at once we rounded a corner and time stood still as chill bumps crawled up my spine because there it was.
Kristen does a stellar dramatization of my original dramatic gasp. I'm not even ashamed of it. I did gasp. My knees buckled. Everything moved into slow-mo. I cried a little. It was so. much. better. in person. I had thought about it. I've seen pictures. I've experienced prints. I've noticed carbon copies on mugs and stationary and t-shirts but it was so. much. better. in person. I did not have all of the desired hours to read every plaque and gaze at every piece and commiserate with everyone standing next to me. It was not at all how I had planned it but there it was. Vivid and vibrant and moving. Not that it moved me emotionally, though it did, I mean it was moving on the canvas. Kristen had admonished me multiple times, knowing how I am: "You cannot touch it."
I didn't have to touch it. It touched me.
This is one of the most beautiful moments I have ever had with the Lord. People faded. Sounds diminished. The lighting dimmed. I understood it. I understood all over again how very worthy of trust He is. How I can come to Him with my plans, and the desires of my heart, putting both of those things into His hands and trusting that He knows best. That His way is not only right, but good. Not just good for others, or the development of my character, or my ministry, but good for my heart as well. How trading my plans for His is never a bad deal, and ever the best decision.
He knows what He's doing, and when He does something it is always so. much. better. than I ever could have dreamed.
So I foresee, and I'm confident enough to state it, many starry starry nights ahead. I have an inkling that they'll be so much better in person.