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by Ronald Ferguson

In Dusseldorf an artist had been hired,
And asked to paint the crucifixion scene.
He had no love for Christ or Christian things,
But only for the contract fee was keen.
This Stenburg craved for fame and glory's glow
When all this happened many years ago.

One morning, day had dawned delightfully,
And Stenburg took a forest walk near home.
His artist's eye watched out for features there -
The hues and textures artists' eyes would comb.
While on that walk, a gipsy girl he saw,
And watched her plait her baskets out of straw.

Impressive was the beauty of that lass,
And Stenburg bargained for her posing time.
As model for a Spanish dancing girl,
Pepita posed thrice weekly and did shine.
Always at the appointed hour she came.
Impressive wonders set her eyes aflame.

The studio held fascinations real,
But one above all others caught her eye.
"The Crucifixion" held her gaze with awe,
And why it was that this One had to die.
"Now who is this and what is being done?
And whose are those bad faces 'round that One?"

The answer she received, for her, was new.
"That One is being crucified," she heard.
"But no more talk and stand as I have said!"
Pepita dared not speak another word.
But every time into that room she came,
That picture's fascination stayed the same.

Once more she plucked the courage up to ask
About the scene's depiction she observed.
She asked why that One should be crucified;
If He was bad, or from the good had swerved.
"No, He's not bad. In fact, He's very good."
And that was all she learned and understood.

Her curiosity continued long.
Pepita now desired more facts clear.
"Now listen, I will tell you once for all
About this One in paint depicted here."
So Stenburg then recounted on that day -
The story of the cross, before her laid.

Pepita's tears rolled freely down her face.
That story she had never heard before.
But Stenburg's unconverted heart was cold;
God's mercy he did long ago ignore.
The gifted artist drew Christ's dying pain,
But from it, derived no eternal gain.

Pepita's final visit soon arrived,
And then her contract fee was given her.
She stood in Stenburg's studio so still,
Quite loathe to leave the painting where they were.
She thanked the master for his gift of gold,
Then turned to him and made this statement bold:-

"Now you must love Him greatly, do you not,
When He has done all that for you in love?"
The master could not answer her one word.
That verbal arrow pierced him from above.
"All that for you!" kept ringing in his ears.
God's Spirit made the gipsy's words sharp spears.

Conviction overtook his soul through that.
It caused great sadness and a restlessness.
He came to see that Christ hung there for him;
For all his sin and utter helplessness.
Salvation came to Stenburg - and his plea?
"He loved me and Himself, He gave for me."

This message that had gripped his soul in love,
Could not be silenced or remain untold.
Much thought he gave to how it could find wings,
And make its home with those it would enfold.
That wondrous love to all men must be shown,
But how could he, an artist, make it known?

His brush would tell God's sacrificial love.
Each stroke would speak those mighty words of hope.
He painted with a zeal from God right then,
And canvassed all Christ's love, so wide its scope.
Then underneath, the words, "All this for thee
I did. What hast thou, viewer, done for Me?"

This painting soon was hung in Dusseldorf
With others in that famous gallery.
One day as Stenburg went to view his work,
He saw a lass there weeping bitterly.
Before his painting all undone she cried.
Right there, the artist to her, drew aside.

Pepita was the one who wept that day.
"Oh master! If He had but loved me so!"
This was her need, her soul's sincere desire.
Stenburg explained the love she too, could know.
Now he answered all her questions this time
With earnestness, to cause the truth to shine.

And so it did; redeeming light claimed her.
A child of God, through faith in Christ, became.
She saw He loved her even unto death,
Then everything surrendered to His Name.
Pepita found at last the peace she sought;
The Saviour's blood had her redemption bought.

Now, reader too, salvation can be yours.
Then, with Pepita, share redeeming love.
Christ loved you so; therefore for you He died,
And that is why He came from heav'n above.
Oh, sinner lost, all this He did for you.
Then what for Him, do you intend to do?

I came upon a tract that told the story of the artist, a Gypsy girl and a painting. It touched me and I set to convert the story to a poem keeping exactly to the story with no embellishment. This is the result and I hope you like it.

The poem is copyright and must not be used without the author's permission. I am happy for it to be used with my approval. M

This poem was a finalist in the September 2021 poetry contest

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Click Here to contact Ronald Ferguson to request permission to use this poem.