Pulling Faith Down from the Attic

“What can you tell me about this Frederic Remington portrait of Lea Febiger that’s been stored in your attic for decades?” the Antiques Roadshow appraiser asked her guest during an airing on March 29th, 2015.

“Well, Lea Febiger,” the owner replied, “was my great-grandfather, a friend of Frederic Remington, who in 1896 painted his portrait as part of a military series in El Paso.”

The appraiser, an expert in American West art, explained, “Remington didn’t have a tremendous amount of training, but a natural instinct for the vitality and the style of the West. And this portrait really is a terrific example of that. It also comes with a letter from Remington to your great-grandfather. They talk about the adventures that they had. Now, you had this appraised in 1960 for $7,500, correct?”

“I did,” replied the guest.

“Well, the years have been kind to you and Frederic Remington. And this piece would be something that I would value at auction between $600,000… and $800,000!
The portrait’s owner, who happens to be a friend but requested I not use his name, concluded, “I was hoping I would be widely exuberant, and I am!”  

Much like a hidden masterpiece, faith can be tucked away in the attic of our lives, waiting to be rediscovered. If spiritual journeys were collages, childhood memories might be the initial snapshots— Like the Sunday mornings you spent scooting back and forth on a creaking wooden pew, fidgeting by your grandmother’s side. You can still picture her “shushing!” you while the minister’s message muffled off to the side. Or how you bounced around in the spring sunshine in the church playground and how gargantuan it appeared at the time, but as a grown-up, you find it’s relatively small.

Some images of faith sour or fade as life progresses due to external influences. Typical culprits tend to go like this: blatant hypocrisy by the preacher, snootiness from church-goers, judgy looks, and unfriendly sneers. Sure. I get it. But a portion of the problem probably arose from within. It almost always does. Refusing to turn from known sin? Failure to forgive although you’ve been forgiven? Bitterness at a relationship gone south? Resentment arising from a financial letdown? Divided loyalties are typically a safe bet.

Everyone understands when a person needs distance and space. We’ve all been there. But you know what? Despite why your faith got stored away in the first place, and regardless of how you unpack it, this is an exceptional opportunity to pull it down from the attic and put it back into use. Here are three reasons to consider:

Inherent Value: Your faith holds immense value, not merely for personal gain, but as a testament to something greater—Him.

Collective Strength: The body of believers needs you. Your faith contributes to the well-being of the church.

Public Display: When your faith is openly expressed, it can inspire and encourage others; everyone benefits.

You may have noticed that the Remington portrait’s worth in the Antiques Roadshow segment was never in doubt; it simply needed to be brought into the light. Similarly, while potentially hidden, your faith is a treasure meant to be shared, not kept in seclusion.

As for the Frederic Remington portrait of Lea Febiger, it’s currently on display at the Birmingham Museum of Art, where the public can marvel at its rich history. As a child of Jesus, you were never meant to be hidden from view but out in the open as a treasure of immense worth. The intent is for the world to momentarily glance at you, then redirect and gaze upon Him: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Mt. 5:16

So, don’t hesitate to pull your faith-story portrait down from the attic and put it back into use. This is not just a welcome back; it’s a hopeful anticipation of seeing you return home.


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