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I like art, although I don’t often have the patience for crowded art museums. One exception was the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam a couple of years ago. It was a long line of people moving from one painting to the next. I’m sure that doesn’t sound interesting to most, but I loved the art and recently I got to know a lot more about Van Gogh.

Last November Rhonda and I took a footsteps of Van Gogh tour in the small French town of Auvers-sur-Oise, France. It was really interesting to see large reproductions of his work outside the subject matter of his paintings 126 years later. The included picture is just one example of this.

Van Gogh was Dutch. He grew up in an upper middle class family. His father was a Dutch Reformed pastor.

Van Gogh went off to this small French town to be treated by a Dr. and get well. Some theorize he was bi-polar, or suffered mental issues due to a poison in an alcoholic drink he favored. He was only there for 70 days, but made 80 paintings in that short time.

He was not much of a success in life. He tried his hand at being an art dealer, but was fired. He tried teaching too. He worked for a while as a translator. He was not accepted into seminary, but did attempt to be a preacher and a missionary for a time. He failed at that too. He turned to painting, but sold only one painting in his entire life, and that for a very modest sum. He was only able to survive based on the support from his younger brother Theo.

He suffered in his relationships too. He was alienated from his father and was rejected by several love interests. He had an epic fight with his friend and fellow artist Gauguin and Van Gogh threatened to kill him. Instead he cut off his own ear.

In the end Van Gogh did not get well. He committed suicide at the young age of 37 right there in Auvers-sur-Oise. He must have felt like a failure in life, but the truth is if you had just one of his hundreds of his paintings today you would be wealthy beyond your dreams.

Van Gogh made many masterpieces, he just didn’t live to see the great things he could accomplish. Is your life like that? Is it filled with disappointments and regrets? Did you fail to live up to your dreams and expectations? Not many of us make masterpieces, cure diseases, or grab the fame and fortune of this world. Perhaps God is still making a masterpiece out of your life and you just don’t know it yet? Maybe you’re like Theo, encouraging and supporting a loved one to greatness. Don’t give up on the difference you could make in this life or in the next. Remember you are the handiwork of the Master, you’re his Masterpiece.

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