My friend and I went to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum last month.
On one of the walls of its myriad rooms hung an empty frame.
The painting it once held was a beauty.
The only seascape ever painted by Rembrandt, this painting depicts Jesus about to still a violent storm on the sea of Galilee.
The story goes like this.
…when evening came, (Jesus) said to his disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.”
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-40)
If you look closely, you can see that Rembrandt has painted himself into the boat; he is the one in middle, holding onto the line looking out into the storm.
Sadly, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee was stolen from the museum in 1990.
It is out there, somewhere, even though we cannot see it now.
Today would have been my oldest son’s 24th birthday.
24 on the 24th; there must be some significance to that.
He was a beauty, as well.
He made us laugh, drove us crazy, always showed up.
He’s the empty frame that hangs on the wall of my heart.
I’ve always wondered how Jesus could sleep while all hell was breaking loose around Him. He was the one, after all, that thought it was good idea to sail across a squall-prone lake in the dead of night.
Before I unjustly accuse the disciples of unreasonable panic, however, I must remember the many squalls I have had to sail.
The times I thought Jesus was asleep, indifferent and aloof.
The times I thought my own boat was going down.
The times I dared to ask, Teacher, don’t you care?
What a ridiculous question!
While there may be times, in fact many times, when we might feel Jesus is sleeping on the job, the fact is, He scolded the Jewish leaders who were hassling Him for healing on the Sabbath by telling them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” (Mark 5:17)
Jesus knew the right questions to ask.
Why are you so afraid?
Haven’t you learned to trust yet?
This second year since my son’s accident has been harder than the first.
I’m not sure why.
His brother told me the other day that another year simply means we are getting closer to seeing him again.
I know that, but sometimes, like the frightened disciples, I forget.
I know that my son is out there, like Rembrandt’s painting, somewhere, safe, even though we cannot see him now.
Quiet! Be still!
The One whom the wind and waves obey knows what He is doing.
I miss you, Baby.
4 thoughts on “The Empty Frame”
Cheryl, Your parables are so powerful and always point to Jesus. I ache for you and your loss. With love and prayers, Robbin MacVittie
Sent from my iPhone
Happy birthday, Gordie… we are all thinking about you often. Xo
Beautiful candles burned into the night on Gordie’s Holderness bench. Happy birthday, Gordie!
I saw the picture on FB – made me so happy xxoo