In 2018, I was getting ready for an upcoming art show. The theme of the show was The Life of Christ. I wanted to paint scenes of Christ’s life to help those who attended the show feel a connection with Him. I had already painted Faith to Be Healed and Through His Light when this beautiful image of the Savior kneeling at a rock and looking up to heaven came into my mind.
I went into my studio, pulled out my watercolor paper, drew out this image, and started painting. The moment I put my brush to the paper was the moment the Spirit took over. I knew exactly what colors to use and where the light should fall on Christ. I knew I needed to keep this painting clean and simple. I felt directed to leave the top of the painting open.
As I was painting this central moment in God’s plan, I felt so close to Jesus. The thought “Christ did this for me” came into my mind over and over. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for Him, for His courage and love for each of us. The Spirit was so strong as I painted, and I thought, “I will never lose this feeling.” Immediately after I finished the painting, however, I was overcome with shame and embarrassment. The words “This is not a good painting, and no one will like it” came to my mind, and all of the fears and insecurities I had been fighting to conquer for so long were suddenly front and center.
I hate to admit it, but I listened to those fears, and I found a place where I could hide the painting. I felt defeated. I had desired to paint something that would represent this pivotal moment in all eternity, but fear took over. As the day of the art show grew closer, the image of Christ kneeling at that rock looking up to heaven kept coming into my mind, and I would go back and forth from “Yes, I’ll put this painting in the show” to “No, I’ll leave it out.”
Finally, the week of the art show arrived. I had all of the other paintings framed and ready to go when I received a clear thought to include Atonement. I knew that even though I was nervous, I needed to step above that fear and put the painting in a place where people could see it.
When the night of the show came, Atonement was the first painting people walked up to and the first one they asked about. I was humbled. Watching people’s reactions to this painting and hearing how it made them feel surprised me, and that feeling I had experienced in my studio while I was painting returned. I felt the Spirit close to me that night, reassuring me that this was a good thing and that people would draw closer to Christ because of it.
I have often thought about the experience I had while painting Atonement. The contrast of light and dark reminds me of the experience Moses had in Moses 1. Moses saw God face to face and talked with Him. God taught Moses that he is a son of God—He calls him that three times! He shows him the world and everyone in it. I can only imagine the light and joy Moses felt during this incredible experience. We learn, though, that immediately after God departed from Moses, Satan appeared to him, trying to take that light and joy from him. We learn how fear came over Moses momentarily; however, the moment he turned to God, he received strength.
With Satan trying hard to separate us from Jesus Christ, His light, and His Atonement, it is important to keep our focus on the Savior so that when the doubts come flooding in, we can have the strength to overcome them. This life is all about overcoming, but we are not overcoming alone. We have the Savior. He is our friend. He will be by our side while we learn and walk forward.
I love what the Lord says in Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
We can have confidence in our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is inviting us to come to Him and receive the blessings of His Atonement. He has overcome the world. He has delivered us because He loves us. Consider this quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
In His willing submission to death, He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free.
Christ’s Atonement covers all things.
When I look at this painting, I see a beautiful and powerful moment between Father and Son where all of the pain of the world is felt, and yet all of the love and forgiveness and grace is given. Christ died for us. He suffered so we could overcome. Turn to Him. Give your fears, doubts, heartaches, and mistakes to Him, and allow Him to give you peace.
In Connecting with Christ, beloved artist Kate Lee shares the experiences that have helped her come to Christ and learn to trust Him and the healing only He can give. When we allow Christ to carry our loads, we can begin to see the light He is offering us, the hope He is giving to us, and the love He feels for us.
In thoughtful prose paired with her beautiful full-color paintings, Kate invites us to ponder scriptures, explore questions, and record our impressions on the journal pages.