This is my newest physical watercolor “Gallop”. I believe watercolors are the hardest painting medium, so I’m trying to improve more and more. The wonderful thing about them is their portability. It’s a little easy to paint in new locations with them than it is acrylics, partly due to setup, and partly due to the quick clean up.
Hebrews 7:25Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
God knows when to speak, how it will be most effective, and what to say. That sounds pretty obvious, but so many times I forget. That’s when He steps in, speaks, and alters everything once again.
It was one of those mornings yesterday, where I was awake before five, wrestling with my own insecurities. It was then He placed this verse on my mind, and as strange as it may seem, this isn’t one of my go to verses. You those verses that you hold onto in the midst of a struggle?
Those tried and true chapters that are life ropes when you feel like you’re drowning? Psalms, Isaiah, Galatians, verses in these books are usually my battle cry. David’s words, Isaiah’s vision, and Paul’s unshakable confidence are typically the weapons I choose. If you held a verse literally, there would be worn grooves where I’ve clutched them in the fight.
This verse though, it was one that I have read, and yes sung the hymn, but it was not something I had memorized. I say that to explain what I hadn’t picked up on at first. A day or so before, the hymn had come to mind, but not the verse. The morning when I was struggling with doubt, this verse came to mind.
I felt compelled to look it up, and to tell you the truth, part of me didn’t expect this exact wording to be there. I thought I was thinking of the old song, “… I’m saved to the uttermost, and I know that I am.” I failed to remember the verse inspired the song, and not the other way around. I can promise you though, I’ll never forget it again.
Before you, like me, begin the recounting of all of our own self built obstacles, focus on this. There was no greater obstacle than the one that separated God from His creation. The mocking Black Death known as sin, challenging God to either destroy His people, or put up with something inside them that was utterly unlike Himself.
I believe that the enemy thought He had placed God in an impossible situation, one that even The Creator could not resolve. Arrogance told our adversary that even God could not scale this wall. How wrong, on both counts, was the accuser!
God, neither condoned sin, nor condemned us. Instead, He turned the world upside down, that’s in the book too, to rescue us. He, sinless and spotless, took our sin, condemned Himself, and gave His life. He converted us from the infestation of sin, to the innocent children of Calvary.
What we received was not a transfusion, but a transformation. Through His blood, He didn’t inoculate us, that involves placing the disease inside you, instead He eradicated the deadly disease. His blood, and His innocence, replaced our iniquities.
After this, we still question our own self worth, our own ability to be what God would have us to be? I know it’s crazy, but I’m guilty of it too many times. If He scaled the chasm of righteous God and sinful man, then He is strong enough to help us through any battle we face.
One of the meanings of save them here is this, “To save from the evils that obstruct the reception of The Messianic deliverance.” God is able, not only to keep us, but to keep our eyes locked on Him when things attempt to distract us.
That’s what He did for me yesterday morning. When my flesh was trying to worry me, His word calmed me, and reminded me. Christ is not only big enough to face my enemies, He’s big enough to silence my own self when it attempts to scare me with my own feelings of inadequacy.
He dressed quickly and methodically, just as Ulysses did everything else. He was the first, though only by fifteen minutes, the other two didn’t know that. They couldn’t, it was part of Grandfather’s plan.
He had sacrificed much for this scheme, still he had been happy. Ulysses Zade Monopole was his name to outsiders, but he was a Strand. The firstborn of twins, however he and Artemis didn’t look alike.
His mind drifted back to Mother’s story, Aunt Minerva, was there at the beginning. Carla Elise Strand had three sons, Ulysses Zade Strand, Artemis Xavier Strand, and Edwin Wynton Strand. They were given unusual names on purpose, to instill the Piper pride in them.
Oliver Strand never knew he had three boys, only the two last ones. The doctor had said there would be only one, and the sisters felt he didn’t need to be informed. Carla asked Minerva to raise Ulysses, knowing that it was the only way to protect him from a mad man. That of course wasn’t the reason she had told Grandfather and Mother. He didn’t learn this version until he was twenty.
By then, Ulysses had formed his own opinion of the Grandfather that everyone else idolized. Mother, or as they called her, Aunt Minerva, had been good to him, giving him everything that he had wanted or needed. She wasn’t able to have children of her own, so she loved being a Mother to him.
Still, it pained him to watch his brothers from a distance, never being able to share their lives. He was raised as a Monopole, Mother’s first husband, she had taken the maiden name back upon his death. The finest schools, the military, and now his current position all were part of the Piper grand plan.
He smiled at himself in the mirror, he still cut a dashing figure. The uniform fit him well, and he enjoyed the job. Ulysses would enjoy more, his new position, the one he had been promised for going along with the arrogant scheme. It would be his reward for a life of illusion and misdirection.
Edwin Wynton would get the position of Machiavelli, the power behind a throne. Artemis Xavier would be the head of an international criminal network, making things possible that Edwin Wynton needed accomplished. Ulysses Zade would be the last piece, the head of the military arm. Between the three, they would rule the country, secure Grandfather’s treasure, and begin a dynasty.
Mother had left specific instructions, he was to enter the room at precisely 12:34. No sooner, and no later, it was a flare dramatic, but so was she. Every Piper was, he knew he had inherited the Piper arrogance too, it had kept him alive as a prisoner.
Now it would pave the way to their final success. He placed the hat on his head, adjusted his tie, and walked towards the suite. The last Strand was in place, and ready to meet his family. Then, to activate Grandfather’s plan, and forget him, finally, for good.
Edwin Strand was not invited. It was Estelle’s one request, and one that Pin was happy to comply with. This wasn’t only because of his love for her, but of Pin’s suspicions. He now believed both her, and Edward Mallory’s opinion of Strand.
The couple, the wolves, Francois, Carl, and the recovering Mallory gathered for a simple wedding. Estelle, knowing the potential danger Edwin posed to anyone decent, decided to be married now. Even though this meant introducing her family to her husband, and not her fiancé. The Captain, Shamus Arlowe, an old hand at this, married them. As both a seafaring man, and a minister, he had performed his share of weddings.
Though, never on the lowest deck of the ship among wolves, and other animals. It was a small, yet beautiful ceremony. Estelle in a simple white dress she had bought in Alaska, not suspecting it would become her wedding dress. Pin in his dress uniform, he had planned for this.
The dress too had been bought at his insistence, knowing his intentions. Surprisingly the wolves behaved themselves. Something that could not be said of all the passengers, chiefly the Strand boys. Rarely ever together, due to Edwin’s political agenda, they enjoyed a shipboard reunion.
It was during this reunion that they discussed their plan. “Edwin, are you sure you can pull it off? Cousin Aaron tried it years ago.” “Cousin Aaron was stupid enough to murder a former Secretary Of The Treasury himself. That dear brother is why we employ assassins, like the clarinet player.”
“Grandfather and Aunt Minerva’s plan needed tweaking, which we’ve accomplished, now we act.” Artemis’ main question was about the location, he wasn’t sure about the logistics. As arrogant as Edwin was, he listened to his older brother. If there was one thing Artemis knew, it was murder, so Edwin considered a change of venue for his triumph.
St Louis and Harriet enjoyed a rare above deck stroll that night, after everyone was asleep. He wasn’t taking any chances on his bride’s safety. This was why Harriet wore a scarf and hat to conceal her appearance as much as possible. Each dreaming of the day when they could be assured of her having a normal life again.
As the ship drew closer to it’s destination, Ralph and the circus were making their way to Washington to meet Francois and his cargo. They were scheduled to perform for an event that would draw the nation’s leaders, maybe even the President himself. Ralph, and his friend the High Flying Lewzinstra discussed the possibility of performing for him.
All the while, Aunt Minerva sat like a spider in her web. Everyone was coming to her, the boys, the patsies, and the victims. She smiled as she looked out of her hotel window. The painting of her father, placed above the mantle of the suite, as she had requested.
When you own the hotel, you can do things like that. Minerva liked owning things, she had recently bought a circus, a menagerie, and something else, an opportunity. It had taken all of her markers to pay for it, but it was worth it. Her nephews would carry on her plan well, with her guidance of course.
“I wonder if it’s time to tell them the final detail? I’ve kept this part secret for so long, but it will not be much longer. Soon, our family will take its rightful place, and everyone else will regret how they’ve treated us.” She had a thought, then laughed at her play on words. “Soon, the last strand will be in place!”