“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles …” – Isaiah 40:31
I opened my Bible to a familiar passage in Isaiah. This passage reminds me of my oldest son, Eddie. It has become kind of a life verse for him. I prayed for him as I read, wondering how he was doing.
Then I had an idea.
This would be a wonderful passage for an art project. Except I wasn’t sure I could draw an eagle, and this passage required an eagle. ‘Why not ask Eddie to draw me an eagle?’ I thought. He has always been much better at drawing.
I made my request to Eddie later that evening over the telephone, which has been my primary means of contact with him in the last several months. We were both surprised when Eddie said he had been thinking of the same passage that very morning.
Eddie’s not living a typical lifestyle.
His days run together in mind-numbing monotony. His only real highlight is a 15-minute call home, where we are interrupted every couple of those precious few minutes by an automated recording, reminding us our time is short. And the call cuts off, whether or not we’ve finished our goodbyes.
Eddie is serving time in a state prison, several hours from home. He was sentenced to nine years this past March. Yes, nine years. Even as I type that, my heart is sick with grief. I was there when the judge read his sentence. It’s not a day easily forgotten – the kind etched deeply on a mother’s heart. The sight of your child in a county jail jumpsuit and flip-flops, shuffling across the floor, chained at the wrists and ankles, escorted by a sheriff’s entourage. It’s shocking to realize the same child you once taught to tie his shoes now warrants such restraint and is the subject of a grand jury trial.
His lawyer had warned me, “No contact with the prisoners. It is a policy strictly enforced.” I prayed silently for the mercy of a hug, and God answered. Apparently, God is bigger than bureaucracy. One of the sheriffs motioned me over and allowed us to say our goodbyes. I was so grateful to just be there for him and have a moment to comfort him before he was escorted beyond my reach.
When I had the idea for this eagle artwork, I thought, ‘What better way to affirm Eddie in his talents and gifts than to ask him to participate in a mother-son art project – to show him he is capable of creating something meaningful when he is tempted to believe otherwise.’
Eddie’s in a place where it would be easier to resign himself to serving time in a meaningless existence. He lives where he is known by number, not name. Where every unique thing that makes him special is stamped out in the intentionally depersonalized structure known as “population control.” Where God seems far off and Eddie is sorely tempted to fall even further into the deepest darkness. It’s a precarious time.
I praise God for His creativity and restorative plans!
I am convinced this project idea came from the Father’s own heart. As Eddie and I work together to create beauty from ashes, and redeem the time, I pray and believe in God’s greater restorative work. He is healing our hearts, one painting at a time.
It didn’t take long for Eddie to respond to my request. The request itself encouraged him in the best way. He sent me three different eagles. They came sketched in only pencil on thin paper, folded from the mail. Writing supplies are prized in prison. Eddie has written me letters on envelopes, the back of forms, any scrap he is able to get his hands on.
After seeing his sketch, I decided to cut out and glue his actual eagle right into my painting. I very proudly present the first of what I hope will become a series of mother-son art projects.
I noticed my busy background unintentionally ended up looking kind of military-camouflaged. Even that detail has God’s fingerprints all over it. Think of it, using an eagle – a symbol of freedom – to encourage a prisoner and wage war against the powers of darkness. This is a war, and we are fighting for his very life – with a pencil and a paintbrush. How fitting our first piece should come complete with war paint!
This project brought me joy in sadness, light in the dark; and I believe it did the same for Eddie. I praise God for calling us to it.
I believe wholeheartedly, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:4). I claim the hope we have in Him who is faithful, and I pray for my son with every brush stroke. I ask My God and Father to paint the truth of this passage upon Eddie’s heart – to renew his strength to carry out his sentence and grant him freedom on the inside, the kind that cannot be taken, even in a prison cell.
See more from Robyn Terry at www.robynterry.com.