Here is another piece of response art from Caroline Norris on the book of Hosea.
The idea for this piece came to me in the middle of the sermon about Jonah (sorry Vince). However, I do not think it is unrelated. As illustrated by Jonah’s interaction with the Lord concerning the plant he was given for shade, we, as a people, so quickly feel entitled to the gifts that God bestows upon us.
Throughout Hosea, Gomer is constantly abandoning Hosea in pursuit of her other lovers. She is unable to recognize the source of her provisions and missuses them- “She did not know that it was I who gave the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.” [Hosea 2:8]
The grape vines are representative of the vineyard of the Lord. Specifically how wine is a symbol for joy – the joy of having a friendship with the Living God. We have access to the king’s vineyard, where there is joy everlasting.
The reaching hand is representative of us, the church, grasping elsewhere to fulfill our desires- ultimately, grasping into empty space. The hand is distorted in order to symbolize our warped perceptions and priorities.
This hand is also a direct juxtaposition of the hand of the Lord reaching out towards us, as illustrated in the piece for the series as a whole. As we are reaching away from Him, He is reaching out towards us.
“But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.” Hosea 2:14
We are currently walking through the Minor Prophets together on Sunday mornings. As a church we encourage our people to respond to what they are learning from God’s Word. Some respond in conversations with others, some respond with questions and further investigation, some write out their thoughts and some express their thoughts in art. Below is a piece of response art on the book of Jonah by TJ Norris. Below the image is his written description.
Although most emphasis is traditionally put upon the story of Jonah and the fish, I personally was impacted by the book’s ending. As Jonah sat outside Nineveh, God provided him a plant to shield him from the intense sun, bringing him comfort for the rest of the hot day. But the next morning, God provided a worm that began chewing on the plant, making it wither so that it was no longer providing any shade. Without even praising God for the shade of the plant in the first place, Jonah felt so entitled to the comforts it provided that he wanted to die when they were taken from him. Contrary to the great remorse he felt over the death of this plant, Jonah showed no concern over the looming demise of city of Ninevah. He instead was filled with angst and anger at the thought of God saving this city full of more than a hundred thousand people.
So often God provides comforts for us that we easily take for granted without even acknowledging that it was God who gifted them to us in the first place. It’s easy to catch myself feeling entitled to comforts big and small, convincing myself that I earned them and thus deserve them. This passage led me to feelings of conviction about my own entitlement towards the gifts that God graciously provides me and revealing my tendency to easily feel upset over the loss of something insignificant while there are much bigger problems all around me. To me, this whole lesson is wrapped up and summarized by God’s simple question to Jonah at the end of the book that very easily reveals the posture of our hearts: “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” – TJ Norris