Rod Light | January 25, 2018

California’s recent Thomas Fire brought devastation to LPC student Scot Saunders and thousands of other residents of Ventura County, but Scot learned some important lessons in the midst of the flames.

LPC student Scot Saunders had a final paper due in one of his classes when the Thomas Fire broke out about a mile from his home along U.S. Highway 150. He could see flames from his front yard and knew from his work years before with the California Department of Forestry that it was headed his way. The landlord drove by and gave Scot the choice of staying or evacuating.

Scot left.

Highway 150 was blocked completely and the only other way out was the back route through Ojai, a town of about 7,600 that would soon be ringed by the fire. Cars, trucks and horse trailers lined the opposite shoulder and no one was going the same direction as Scot. People looked at him like they knew something he didn’t, but he had to get out and didn’t have much time.

Taking urgent stock of what mattered, Scot had packed an overnight bag thinking he would be back home the following day. “This happens to other people, and not to me,” Scot says with a grin. He also took photos of his daughters, a few books that are important to him, and some art supplies in case he wanted to paint or draw.

When Scot accepted Christ in 1985, he discovered a new gift as a prophetic artist, a gift that provides him strength and comfort in the midst of life’s worst tragedies.

“I have learned the difference between pain and suffering,” Scot says. “I have learned to feel the pain fully and not to medicate it. And, I have learned never to be a victim.” The Holy Spirit has been speaking to Scot about living victoriously and what it means to live in dominion. “I was walking through that mindset when I experienced the fire,” Scot recalls.

One of his paintings depicts Christ lifting his eyes to His Heavenly Father. When Scot began the painting, he was battling a serious crisis and couldn’t “look Jesus directly in the eye.” Instead, he started painting the hair and worked his way around the head and eventually formed the beard, mouth, nose, and finally, the eyes.

The eyes tell the entire story. As he reflects now on his life and especially the recent fire, Scot is grateful for his deep relationship with Jesus. “I put my head on His shoulder and told Him honestly how much it hurt,” Scot says. As a result, Scot believes he has learned important lessons during crisis that he might otherwise never have learned.

“I have learned the difference between pain and suffering,” Scot says. “I have learned to feel the pain fully and not to medicate it. And, I have learned never to be a victim.” The Holy Spirit has been speaking to Scot about living victoriously and what it means to live in dominion. “I was walking through that mindset when I experienced the fire,” Scot recalls.

Suddenly, Scot was faced with a new question: “What does greatness look like in the midst of devastation?”

“We read about the suffering of Jesus, but I think it is difficult for us to fully understand,” Scot says. “Having experienced the loss from this fire, I can relate with some of what Jesus must have felt and how His pain drove Him closer to the Father.”

Two days after the fire roared through his home, Scot returned to find nothing left. “The ash was so fine it looked like dust piled on the ground,” he recalls. Scot’s portrait of Christ went up in the flames. Fortunately, digital copies still exist at ScotSaunders.com. More, the image of Jesus gazing into His Father’s face is forever emblazoned in Scot’s imagination.

“We read about the suffering of Jesus, but I think it is difficult for us to fully understand,” Scot says. “Having experienced the loss from this fire, I can relate with some of what Jesus must have felt and how His pain drove Him closer to the Father.”

 

Scot says he will paint other portraits but believes the strength of his gift is that he paints “characteristics of the Lord.” He hopes God continues to show him visions that he can recreate on canvas. Perhaps most important for Scot is that his gift helps draw him closer to his Heavenly Father. Although the fire consumed some of his paintings, and all of his earthly belongings, Scot has a healthy perspective about suffering and loss. And, about the future.

God is beginning to show Scot  that something good is on the horizon and he is ready for his Father to show him the way. “No matter what I go through, no matter what I endure, I will always be His,” Scot declares with a tremble in his voice.