A series of paintings called “My Father’s World” was highlighted at a recent art exhibit. The exhibit took place at the Millcreek County Library, located in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah. The artist, Nancy Schafner, a member of Wasatch Hills church, created paintings that invited viewers to focus on God as our Creator.
When Nancy discovered that she had been selected to prepare the exhibit, she wondered how, through her love of God’s creation, she could use this opportunity to share the gospel with the public. Many people don’t believe God created the heavens and the earth or understand His character of love. In answer to her prayers, she was strongly impressed to do a series on Creation. She didn’t view herself as an accomplished artist, so this task seemed intimidating.
As she spent more time in nature, hiking and praying, she became more convinced that God was directing in this endeavor and would be there to guide and assist. A search on the internet led to inspiring ideas of how to portray her beliefs on canvas. Sometimes the ideas seemed daunting to try to represent, and she had no clue how or where to begin.
Bible study also helped Nancy gain confidence. “I read the section in Exodus 35:30-35, which tells about the artisans being called by God,” she explained. “I kept telling myself God had called me to this and He would see me through by giving me the ability to do it.” Indeed, God faithfully led through the entire process, and she was left feeling that the exhibit happened through faith and prayer.
Consisting of 34 acrylic paintings, the exhibit included a series of eight creation pieces. The first one was entitled “In the Beginning God Created the Heavens and Earth Genesis 1:1.” The remaining seven paintings in the series beautifully portrayed the seven days of creation.
Almost by accident, Nancy discovered that painting eases her chronic pain. In the spring of 2020, she was asked to volunteer to team teach an online acrylic painting class for the Millcreek Senior Center. Although she’d had experience with artistic painting in the past, it had been decades since she’d picked up her brushes.
In the process of preparing, leading, and participating in the “Love to Paint” class, she discovered that the pain subsided while she was absorbed in the creative process. Painting continues to provide therapy, making her grateful she has picked up her brushes once again.
Of this experience, Nancy shared, “Not only is painting good for my body, it is also good for my soul. Being outdoors and spending time in God’s creation soothes me. The farther I am from manmade structures and the closer I am to God’s craftmanship, the better I feel.” She continued with a message for all of us: “In the singing of the birds, the whispering of the trees, and the music of bubbling brooks, we can all still hear His voice. As a line from one of my favorite hymns says, ‘This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair; In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.’”
When she is immersed in nature, Nancy knows she is better able to see God’s goodness and power, to feel the symbiosis of the natural world with all its creatures, to recognize that the world is a brilliant and extravagant place. Utah does not lack for diverse, jaw-dropping scenery. Beholding the dramatic and breathtaking landscapes is an awe-inspiring experience. Nancy continues to share her delight in the natural world of God. “When I spend time in creation, I want to create. I want to share the wonder of God’s creation through my artwork—especially with those who can’t get out and see it for themselves.”
At the exhibit, “Day Six” and “Day Seven—The Sabbath,” received the most questions. People asked, “Tell me what’s happening in this painting?” and “What’s going on in Day Seven?” These questions provided opportunities for the artist to share Bible truths with attendees of the exhibit.
God has gifted us all with unique talents and ways of sharing our faith. Find your niche for spreading the gospel and let the world know!
As told to Michelle Ward by Nancy Schafner