We often allow our interests and passions to distract us from our relationship with God. We are so consumed with our own goals and mission that we forget and, maybe, don't even care that it is ultimately a God-given gift. A gift from a God who, before we were born, placed those talents and desires in our hearts and hands.
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14
John Morgenrood (77) is a man who despite a lack of finances not only persevered in his passion, but also chose to glorify God with his talents.
Ever since he was young boy, John wanted to paint. So great was this desire to put brush to canvas that he fashioned all kinds of things to replace the brushes and canvasses he couldn't afford.
"In those days when men bought their suits it came in a big, flat, square box. I used to cut up those cardboard boxes and that was my canvas. I used oil-based paint that I got from my uncle, and I kept these in small bottles in a shoebox under my bed. There wasn't money for real brushes because we were poor, so I took reeds and cut the one end very finely with a blade, I then tied a string around it and that was my brush."
John started out with completing a couple of paintings a year, but as he became more focussed his love for producing art grew.
Today, you'll find him painting in his living room, surrounded by some 50 paintings. The subjects they portray range from intimate portraits to beautiful landscapes. John recently donated a Table Mountain landscape to the Bible Society to help raise funds for Bibles.
"I feel you should give your best to God. I have discussed this particular painting with many people and it has received good comments." John was moved to donate the painting after Pastor Theuns Louw from the Bible Society, visited his church.
"He told us about Bible Distribution and how the people in China were coming to Christ because of the Bibles that are distributed there. This whole concept grabbed me and I felt that I also need do my part to help in this cause. That is when I decided to donate the painting."
This is not John's first involvement with the Bible Society. Some 34 years ago he also donated a painting towards the Bible cause.
"I read in Die Burger (a local newspaper) about a campaign to raise funds for Bibles. I didn't have money to give but I had this painting that I had already finished. It was a desire in my heart that prompted me to make the donation. I felt that God had given me this talent and to show him how grateful I was I wanted to give something back." John would soon be rewarded for his actions.
"They took photos of the painting and then asked what they could write along with it for the newspaper. I told them as long as that painting raises enough money to buy one Bible and that Bible brings one person to salvation it would have served its purpose. Personally I think, God has a sense of humour because it turns out I would be that one person," he said.
"I believe in doing business and striking a bargain. So when I donated that painting, God came and said, here is a bargain for you, you gave that painting for the expansion of the kingdom, now I give you eternal life. At that moment in time I was saved," he added.
Today, John still smiles when he thinks back on that time and the Bible is more dear to him than ever.
"The Bible is like an instruction manual. When you buy a washing machine you read the manual to learn how to get the machine to work. The same with the Bible. It tells you how to live and what you should do. Another wonderful thing about the Bible, is the many promises that it contains for all of us."
John believes that God rewards his children. "Give God the best that you have and he will reward you. Whether it is to paint more beautifully or whatever it might be, you will be rewarded for giving him your best."
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:23-24