“Now these are the areas the Israelites received as an inheritance in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel allotted to them.” Joshua 14:1
“So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.” Joshua 14:9
The word “inheritance” is big on my mind today. Yesterday, I was upset. I called my father and asked about the painting of my uncle he promised to give to me as my inheritance over a year ago. He said he couldn’t find it… It was gone-!
All my three uncles were painters It was the only painting of my uncles remaining in our family. It is a portrait of a girl wearing a traditional dress painted by thick application of oil paint. Although I grew up seeing the painting hung on the wall in my house, I had not really looked at it with much interest until I myself started to paint 2 years ago. When I discovered the joy of painting, I regretted that I never had a chance to talk about art with my uncles . One uncle died before I was born and one uncle was in North Korea so I could not meet him. But one uncle, Sung-eun Lim, the oldest brother of my father, lived until I was in my 30s.
He studied fine art at the prestigious Tokyo University in Japan. But when he came back to Korea after graduation, he saw war orphans from the Korean War. So he gave up his plans to live as an artist, and teaming up with Everette Swanson, an American missionary, created an organization called Compassion, opened an orphanage and dedicated his life for orphans. It was only when he was dying and almost blind he picked up a brush and painted a landscape that appeared to be badly shaken.
So other than this painting he didn’t leave any. The painting I was going to inherit was that of my uncle Hong-eun, the second oldest, who attended the same school where uncle Sung-eun studied . He was alive when I was born but I could not meet him because he was in North Korea. I got to see his paintings only through the media and the internet.
I thought I may discover some connection between his painting and mine. Similarities in techniques and choice of forms and colors perhaps?
Since my father promised to give it to me, I had decided to go to New Jersey and claim it. But yesterday when I called Dad and asked about it, my father said he could no longer give it to me. My heart sank. “What?” He tried to change the subject. But I wouldn’t let him.
“Father, tell me at least what happened to the painting. Did you give it to my brother?”
Dad said he couldn’t find it. During his move to the senior apartment where he lives now, it got lost. I felt that he wasn’t telling the truth.
I was so angry. “Father, do you know how much the painting means to me? I never asked for anything else from you!” I hung up on him and cried.
Yesterday I was working in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. The Kimbell Art Museum was only 10 minutes away. So after work, I drove there to console myself by looking at some masterpieces. As I approached the place, I saw a banner for a special exhibit at the museum “Faces of Impressionism” with a blown-up self-portrait of Van Gogh! My heart quickened. But when I walked up to the main entrance of the building, I found out that it was closed because the museum closes on Mondays. In vain, I pulled the door handle of the locked door.
On my long drive back, I played a sermon CD to calm down and re-focus. The sermon started out great – the title was Jesus doctrine. But after listening to it for about 10 minutes, I was disappointed. It was not really a sermon but was mainly about the preacher’s own life’s accomplishments and political views.
Oh well. I’m not out of my resources yet. I know the source of comfort I can always count on. My God and His words. I’ve been reading Joshua. This morning when I opened to today’s reading, Joshua Chapter 13, the word “inheritance” jumped out at me. I read on from Chapter 13 and was comforted indeed.
In Joshua, God clearly talks about inheritance and allotment among the Israelites, His heirs who love and have faith in Him will receive inheritance that will never be taken away. He keeps his promises.
When Dad told me that the painting was gone, what upset me the most was not the loss of the painting but the fact that my father did not keep his promise with me. But in my anger and desire for the object, I didn’t see that I was hurting my father. I’m sure whatever happened to it, it was out of weakness he had to give it away to the person who took it.
My father was so happy when I told him that I started to paint. He was the only one among his male siblings who did not get to go to art school. Being the youngest male child, he became orphaned when my grandfather was jailed and then died by the hands of the Japanese for preaching against Shinto worship and also for his involvement with Korea’s independence movement. My father had to flee to South Korea after staging a mock resignation of the Japanese principal of the high school my grandfather founded and was a principal of. The school was taken over by the Japanese after Japan’s invasion of Korea.
After fleeing to South, My father simply didn’t have money to go to art school so he studied music instead. But he stayed close to art. When I was a young child, I remember him drawing all sorts of pictures for me on the church bulletin during long sermons I could not understand. He once even got himself into trouble with my middle school teacher for doing my painting homework!
While reading Joshua, it occurred to me that I already received my inheritance. My uncles’ love of art and perhaps their talent for it. I remember my uncle Sung-eun who was running an orphanage, calling us from Pusan saying that he was coming up to Seoul to see an exhibit. He never missed good exhibits and concerts. Really cool guy… but like the painting I lost, I didn’t recognize the beauty of who he was until he died.
I inherited my faith through my father who taught me about God, the most important subject of his life. He was not exactly a modest man. But I saw him always humbling himself in front of God.
Looking back, without faith and not knowing to pray, I would have been totally lost. Arriving here in my late 20s with poor English skills I started out with nothing. But whenever I prayed, God has met all my needs by day. The ability to support myself, friends, family and a road map when I felt lost. So why should I be feeling down?
Besides, it’s my fault not to claim my inheritance immediately when it was offered. My husband urged me that we should go to New Jersey to get it. I was the one who procrastinated. The business of making money always came first.
So let’s not be upset. I prayed to God to make it right with me regarding this matter.
But, loss is loss.
But like the time when I lost Coco my dog, the object of my love for 16 years, certain things are hard to let go. I laid it down at the feet of Jesus to carry my burden of sorrow. When I was praying in the car over my old dead puppy, I heard Queen’s Made in Heaven twice in a row by chance. It was not by chance. I felt that God was comforting me. But sadness albeit lessened stays still in me. I don’t mind. It’s like a scar that is also a memento of love, part of Coco being with me. “I know God that he was made in heaven. But did he make it to heaven? Will I ever get to see him again?”
I want to know. But, let’s have faith. He is not a cruel God. He promises that His heirs will inherit something wonderful. Gifts under the Christmas tree yet to be opened.
My inheritance is the knowledge of God and family legacy – pursuit of righteousness as a way of life.
Besides, I inherited the ability to catch fish. So let’s not cry over a lost fish.
So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. Joshua 21:43-45