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El Shaddai

El Shaddai

El Shaddai. Often recognized, “God Almighty,” it may literally be translated, “God the Mountain One.”
This is a Name of God I have always loved, and when God began showing me His desire for me to put it on canvas, I couldn’t wait to get started. What I didn’t know, was how the subject of the painting itself would be far more timely than I could have imagined.
Before I could begin the painting, my family and I were to be on our way to Colorado Springs. So I picked up a canvas and packed my paints and took the assignment with me, not realizing how the Lord was leading me to this significant location for a reason.
As soon as we arrived, with Pikes Peak majestically overshadowing the valley of Colorado Springs, I knew what to paint. This very peak so aptly displayed to me the awesome majesty of the One whose Name I was about to put on canvas – El Shaddai, “God the Mountain One.”
El Shaddai first appears in the Bible as the Name God chooses to reveal to the elderly Abram when He is reminding Him, for the fifth time, of the very precious promise He gave Him earlier in his life. He tells him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” (Gen. 17:1-2)
The story of Ruth and Naomi, as well as much of the book of Job, feature this Name of God as well. Both stories of despair, indescribable pain, and loss -- yet in the end, what was once bitter is transformed into sweet redemption. Who but “God Almighty” could fulfill His promise and bring such restoration?
Fast forward to present times and I’m sure you can see, as I do, how desperately we need to call on the Name of El Shaddai in the midst of the crisis we now face as a nation. Only God Almighty can fulfill the promises He gave our forefathers and bring healing to the bitterness of sin, sickness and injustice that is raging.
What filled me with hope, as I was finishing this painting, was the sudden remembrance of what Pikes Peak inspired so many years ago. In 1893, Kathrine Lee Bates took a trip to this majestic mountain and wrote a poem that we sing still today.
Oh Beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountains majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
There is even more to this beautiful poem, and I highly encourage you to go and read the rest of the original 1893 text and meaning, but let me tell you what you will find.
You will find a clarion call, and even more than that, a fervent prayer – a prayer for our nation to be refined and to return to its roots of dependence on God, spiritual growth and laying up treasures in heaven – forsaking the love of money, selfish gain, and realizing the vanity of war.
Let us tremble under this call my friends, seeing how far we have fallen, while also praying to our El Shaddai, as Bates did in the last lines of her original 1893 poem:
Oh beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine Alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!
May we look forward to this day of jubilee, preparing our hearts for the day of the Lord’s soon return, realizing that America is great, but God’s kingdom is greater still. And may it be said of us, as it was of Abraham:
Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
(Heb. 11:16)
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