Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light Dies in the Dark

I just love the art of Thomas Kinkade. Do you? My favorite greeting cards are graced by his pictures.I have one of his commemorative tea cup and saucer sets.His cottages and gardens are the subject of our bathroom wallpaper border,

and we own his semi-autobiographical movie telling the wonderful story of how he and his brother struggled to help save their mother’s home. (2008 with Peter O’Toole— a truly inspiring family video for the Christmas season.)Although Thomas Kinkade created some 1,000 major paintings, perhaps his pinnacle work was done in 2010: The Cross, a huge mural adorning the Billy Graham Library in North Carolina. (If you have time for a short video of Kinkade unveiling his work, you can see it at: http://www.squidoo.com/the-cross-by-thomas-kinkade) According to Wikipedia, Kinkade was purported to be America’s “most collected living artist” before his death on Good Friday, just three weeks ago. It is estimated that one in every 20 homes in America has some of his artwork in some form. If I were fabulously wealthy and collected art, I’m sure I would try to buy one (or more) of his paintings!    Instead, we’ve collected many of his beautiful works in the form of puzzles.But, here is the real puzzle for me. How could someone who was faithfully married for thirty years and was quoted in the Wall St. Journal as saying, “When I was saved, my art got saved,” and “My paintings are messengers of God’s love”…how could someone who was doing so well fall from the heights of glorious light into such a pit of blackness?

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What happened? Apparently he got side-tracked into an affair a year and a half ago and died at age 54 “after a night of heavy drinking.” What a tragic end to a most inspirational life! 😦Wall Street‘s article was entitled “Art in a Fallen World.” How sad, and how true. As I puzzle over the heartbreaking conclusion of Kinkade’s life, and the thought that the entire world has lost perhaps 20-30 years of his genius, I grieve. However, I also take comfort in some of the things he said: “The light that is in my paintings is His love, and it has nothing to do with me.”  “Don’t mistake the message for the messenger, just look to God.”

So, how to keep from coming to an ignominious end? As Kinkade said, “Keep pouring passion into the product.” But, we have to keep God himself as the focus for our passion, not wine, women, and wealth…not power and prestige or fame and glory. We’re never immune from temptation and never too old to fail. I think somehow the key must be in humility… in learning to submit daily to the Holy Spirit’s leading as He teaches us to walk in the Light of His presence: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into  subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).