“Stand Beside Me”
©2004 Randall M. Hasson
This painting started with no plan, a first for me. I had been listening to a Celtic music group called Eden’s Bridge, and came across the song “When Grace Abounds” which contained the refrain “my God will stand beside me.” I wrote the line vertically, as a pillar of God’s strength. I then wrote our questions to God during the darkness in our lives, a swirling jumbled mass. “Where are You? Do You Love me? Why can’t I hear You?”
I am not one for the traditional vision. It doesn’t happen to me very often. But on this painting, I could see a woman’s face in my mind. She leaned against the pillar of “My God Will Stand Beside Me.” The look on her face was sweet but not calm. In my first visit to a San Marcos, CA church, I saw my model. Kristen Smeltzer, along with her husband were important figures in founding this young church. I knew she was the one I had been seeing on the canvas and asked permission to paint her.
In I AM – the 365 Names of God by John Paul Jackson, I learned God’s names are His characteristics, the best answers to our questions. I also read Prayer by Richard Foster, which describes our struggle to hear God in the darkness. But like the allegory of walking a Labyrinth, there are no dead ends or blind traps with the Lord. If you stay on the path, and continue walking forward one step at a time, you will always reach center—Him.
The figure in the painting is questioning God and looking at the darkness swirling around her. She cannot see Him and yet, He is still there. To her questions, He provides His answers: His names. And though she is looking away from Him, His light drives away the darkness that surrounds her. His love is ever present, even in her pain.
The final piece came from Kim Hill, Grammy nominee and multiple Dove award winner. Her song, “Can You See Me,” allowed me to complete the thought:
All alone underneath the stars
I wonder if the shadows will ever go away
Where are You?
Are You very far?
I feel you drawing closer
Holding me as I pray…