By Van Yandell Retired American industrial arts teacher, evangelist and pastor

Romans 11:33 “O depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways unexplored! »

One of my great disappointments in life happened in Paris. It was mid-morning on a hot day in June. We walked to the entrance to the glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum. The entrance was closed and locked in our face. The museum has been closed indefinitely; The workers of the city of Paris had walked out. My disappointment was shared by others because we had seen several enter in front of us.

Paris is such a wonderful and beautiful city. The architecture, the people, the history intrigue beyond the typical European city. Of all the points that interest me, my number one goal was to feast my eyes on the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. On my bucket list is to spend a month in Paris and explore.

Sure, I’m no art student, but you don’t have to be an expert or an art critic to see far beyond paint and canvas. To see the Mona Lisa would have been to plunge deep into the mind of Leonardo da Vinci. Considering his story, his family, the city he lived in, and his many accomplishments would certainly have been intriguing. That he lived 400 years ago but communicates to today’s culture captivates my curiosity.

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian cascade of knowledge with many abilities. He was from the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor and architect. To see the Mona Lisa would be to see it and I missed that opportunity by a few seconds.

I had the privilege of seeing many great works of art in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, (Leningrad) Russia. It was founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great acquired an impressive, but at the time somewhat insignificant collection of paintings from a Berlin dealer. The story tends to ignore its methodology and I find that interesting in itself.

I found myself lost in the depths of Rembrandt, Paul Gauguin and Van Gogh. The Return of the Prodigal Son was painted by Rembrandt from 1666 to 1669. Apostles Peter and Paul is a painting by El Greco made in 1587-1592 in Spain.

El Greco once said, “Artists create from a sense of desolation. The spirit of creation is an excruciating and complex exploration of the interior of the soul. His paintings are an expression of the personality of the subjects and convey a greater message than one can ever get from reading the most complex text if one can see beyond the canvas.

These, for me, were paintings to experience, not just to see. His vision connects the heart and mind of the observer to the artist. What were their thoughts, their motivations, their feelings? There is so much more to the great art of the world than meets the eye.

To see a Van Gogh is to share his madness. Seeing his work gives a visual to his tantrums with Paul Gauguin. He began to hallucinate and pass out and during one of his outraged periods he cut off his left ear. I wonder what he was thinking when he came to his senses.

Leonardo da Vinci’s art, as opposed to that of Van Gogh, shows us his penchant for order, precision and perfection. I can’t even begin to imagine him lying on his back on scaffolding for four years painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. My first time in the chapel, I couldn’t take my eyes off her work.

While art connects us to the artist, the Holy Bible connects us to God in much deeper and intricate detail. To read the Bible superficially and not connect with the mind of God and His lessons and purposes for the reader is to not read the Bible at all or for sure miss some of life’s greatest blessing.

The Bible verifies the displays of emotion by God. Anger, compassion, sorrow, love, hatred, jealousy and joy are seen in God in several passages of scripture. Observing the works of great artists develops an emotional bond. A close study of the word of God connects to Him in a way that had not been imagined before; this connection translates into an emotional connection.

Whether we’re ready to admit it or not, we emotionally connect with each other. These feelings can be of one extreme or another, but, it seems obvious when we consider why and how we regard those we know as friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc., there is an emotional factor.

In previous articles, I have encouraged readers to contemplate and meditate on individual verses. Look for inner or hidden meanings. The deeper meanings are convincing of the depth of God’s mind and His omniscience.

To read and study the Holy Bible is to experience the mind of God, not just to read the words as in an ordinary book. Consume it and digest it; take the time to assimilate the extended meanings of the Bible. We also fail to capture the fullness of many of our earthly experiences such as art, architecture or nature. We do not invest the time to deepen.

To go deeper into the study of the Bible is to go deeper into the mind of God. This in itself is compelling to many with an analytical mind or a sense of discernment of the reality of God’s existence.

Even in its supernatural depth, for salvation we are not required to absorb those depths. Our relationship with our Savior Jesus is simple enough for anyone to understand and believe. His sacrificial death on the cross is an emotional, not an intellectual experience. Progressing to deeper meanings is a missed and greater blessing for many who believe they are Bible students.

In a sermon on the crucifixion, I explained the methods of torture employed by Roman soldiers. I observed tears in the eyes of the listeners. Even superficially contemplating his suffering for the sins of mankind can bring even the most willful man to his knees.

I’m starting to see a contradictory tone to this article in the minds of some readers. If I may make one further statement: it is not necessary to fully understand God’s mind for salvation (that, of course, is not possible). We are saved by our faith-based belief in Jesus Christ crucified for the remission of sin and risen again. There are no degrees of salvation based on the perception of deeper meanings!

We are not saved by our intellectual connection with God, but by our faith-based emotional connection. He wants our hearts, our love and our devotion, not our belief based on our human reasoning. Our intellectual exploration into the depths of Scripture is to improve our relationship with Him through understanding.

Many visitors to major museums stand and look at the works of art without experiencing the artist. Likewise, many Christians are unaware of the depth of Scripture and this emotional and personal connection to God. Don’t let it be you!

Writer’s Note: Let me repeat that I do not claim to be an art expert or even a serious art student. I simply know what appeals to my thoughts. We humans so often fail to take the time to reflect and consider our experiences. One of my biggest concerns is not for what I’ve been through, but for what I’ve missed.