People called to be creative artists, designers, inventors, musicians or storytellers can be the most tormented by life. Born with creative souls and receptors tuned to slight nuances, we see and feel things in a way others do not, which offers a lot of opportunities to be wounded.
We are those who resonate from beauty and truth. We are calmed by the lovely, whether words, pictures, nature or music. It’s how we roll. There’s no point telling us to get our feelings off our sleeves because we can’t. Oh we can build walls to protect ourselves from those who enjoy poking us—those who simply have no notion of being attached to the world through color or song, but we can’t turn off who we are without losing our souls.
We’re like the strange jellyfish that washed upon the beach and is irresistible to the insensitive but curious passerby. The ones fearful of the unknown use a stick to jab about the creature. The braver ones use a finger to nudge the intriguing, shimmering unknown mass. A beached jellyfish gets poked, prodded, stepped on or smashed with rocks. And let’s not even talk about the pain that people with shovels inflict.
What we don’t understand makes us afraid. I know because I respond the same way to the unknown. When that large, speckled, bug-thing in Texas comes charging at me all legs, tail and wings I do not stop to find out if it’s a beneficial bug before I start swatting away. But on certain days I remember I am called to be creative and I do see the unknown as a big playground where I can let my imagination and curiosity run wild. On those days, I check out the bug directories in hopes I can be a better neighbor to the good but odd bugs in my backyard.
The box jellyfish is pretty interesting. It can have up to 24 eyes. Real eyes with eyeballs made up of lenses, retinas and corneas. That’s pretty advanced for the invertebrate family. These eyes are set in pairs around their bells pointing in different directions giving them a 360-degree view. Although this gives them a great ability to detect prey, the main purpose of these eyes is to keep them properly oriented in the water. They are beauty in motion and focussed on being in the right position in their world, which is not on a beach but in the ocean waters. Did you catch that? They do not have this extra sight to focus on their enemies. Creatives are not given extra senses to discern the works of darkness. Our real calling is to find beauty and truth and express it in a million different ways so people who don’t have as many eyes can see God’s wonder and majesty and be drawn to Him.
Jellyfish are composed of 95% water. The stuff of their true home. We are not our best on the beach but created to live in the vast spaces of a wide, deep ocean. Transition to our true jellyfish home begins in our heart not in our job or ministry. When the Lord told me He did not create me to build a business, I got so excited I immediately ran off and tried to figure out how to Do Art. I forgot that He’d also once told me that every time He speaks to me it’s an invitation to come have a conversation to find out more. When I finally wandered back, after a few months of frustration, He began talking to me. But He didn’t mention art. He wanted to talk about forgiving the people in my past who poked and smacked me. He mentioned that blessing them was important to living in my true place. He talked about trusting Him for provision, about moving from a place of faith in His word to a relational trust in Jesus the Word. And eventually, eighteen months later, I began to float upon the waves in my jellyfish place.
Another thing you should know is that jellyfish are dangerous to their enemies. The box jellyfish, my favorite, explodes a most powerful lethal, venom at its enemies. I think we’re dangerous, too and are a very real threat to the dark world. Christ John Otto, in his book An Army Arising: Why Artists are on the Frontline of the Next Move of God, says, “ [enemies of God] are afraid of beauty because beauty will lead us to the One who is beautiful. It is not a stretch to see that artists will strike horror [in them.]” No wonder we experience so much brokenness, not that God plans it that way, but that our enemy lies watching for certain signs that identify children as those jellyfish people who will be his worst nightmare if they find out who they really are, if they ever discover they are God’s wildest dream and come running home to Jesus. We are God’s plan that will threaten evil in the world. A plan of beauty, of rest, of knowing our heavenly Father and expressing His light and life in a most powerful way on the earth.
My word for you today is to stay off the beach and find time to visit with your heavenly Father about your true home in Him. And don’t go poking the unique, different people you can’t understand because they may be wounded jellyfish people just like we are.
I have come to believe that all the supernatural experiences I have had are simply invitations from God. Invitations to come closer. To seek further into who He is and how He thinks. To understand how He loves.
I had a dream a few years ago where I was traveling from church to church, looking through their teachings and books, seeking truth. Finally, after I had been at this awhile, Jesus showed up. He stood in front of me as if to ask me what I was doing. His face was so bright. He did not speak out loud, but into my heart, saying, “I am who you seek. I am the message. Seek me.” I, lover of books, was invited to seek Jesus, the true message of the book.
In other dreams I have been given things I don’t understand. Scepters, robes, oranges….Recently, Jesus showed me a story. I was a little girl playing in a forest. There was a small, lovely garden that I knew was mine. I was enjoying some project with flowers, twigs and stones. A rock showed up in my hand and I began to look around for something to do with it. I pounded it on the side of a tree. I drug it through the dirt, making a ditch. I played catch with it. About the time I was reaching my arm back to give it a good throw at something, I felt Jesus behind me. He gently took the rock and broke it open just like you crack open an egg. Inside were the most lovely crystals, purple and shiny. He set it in my garden, moving it with precision to a specific place at the foot of a flower, then turned and smiled at me, holding out His hand.
What I learned from that story is that God gives me gifts that I have no idea what to do with. He gives me gifts as an invitation to seek Him more. To ask Him what to do with the gift. How to make it work. Like a father gives a child some kind of kit at Christmas, his intent is to teach and play with that young son or daughter. To spend time with them. To love and be loved in a time of play and learning. Heavenly Father loves us so deeply, yet we may not recognize the invitation to come close in the gifts. Sometimes it seems we are wired to head off to the library or the church when we are given a heavenly gift. Conferring with others, first. Seeking understanding for the usefulness of the gift.
Perhaps the gift is simply an invitation to come visit the One who adores you. Perhaps it is only for beautifying the garden not building roads or defeating foes. Perhaps it is Jesus’ way of tossing rocks at our windows and inviting us out to play. He is the best friend you will ever know. He is inviting you today. Accept the invitation. It will be wondrous!
Bethel Worship | God I look to You
Graham Cooke Soaking | Everything in Life is an Invitation from God
I walk differently now. Instead of precarious and tormented I walk straight, sure of my foundation and full of joy that makes no sense. I can’t turn around and go back. There is no other path for me but the one where Jesus leads, as odd and mysterious as it seems.
One Less Angry Person
The world does not need one more angry person which is where I land when I look at evil and am offended instead of bold in His love for lost ones. When I focus on injustice, anger at people rises in me instead of hope in God’s bigness. When I look at systems embedded with chaos and lies, despair overwhelms me and I lose faith in His truth of redemption. I saw a picture in prayer one day not long ago. It was a young boy with superman eyes. Eyes that shined light rays at whatever he focused on and the light made what he was looking at come alive. He looked at a dead snake skin and the snake came alive. He looked at a wilted flower in the garden and it bloomed big and beautiful with life.
No matter how lifeless things first appear, our attention makes them grow. It empowers them to live. What we focus on grows. Choose carefully what to focus on because we have power. We don’t deny there is a dead snake in the garden but we can deny its power to live. We can deny its power to divert us from life. There are things in my peripheral vision that are threatening, fearful, or troubling but God is very clear with me on what I can entertain in my thoughts and vision. His word is clear on what must hold my attention. His ways are higher. He has given us power to call things that are not as they if they are. To speak life into the good bits of our garden, our environment, even our friends and family. Sometimes it’s easier to only see what is wrong or what the enemy is about, maybe because we have a habit of doing life this way, but there is another way, a way that brings goodness to life.
Perhaps if we’re intentional in where we focus our eyes and our attention, we can experience newness of life every day. We could honor each other by focusing on the good. In chaos, we could look for the one lovely thing, no matter how wilted and we could see it bloom as we watched. We could find good things in other people. See the opportunities in challenging circumstances. Remember our promises from God.
In researching the electron, scientists have puzzled over whether it’s a wave or a particle. The interesting thing is that when they look for a particle they find the electron is a particle, but when they set up the experiment to see if it’s a wave, they find the electron functions as a wave. Most curious. It appears to be both, or rather it is whatever the scientist is looking for. Which makes me wonder if it’s even possible to set up a truly objective experiment or if we become part of the answer because of what we’re seeking. Because of what we believe is true. Because of what we’re focused on, expecting to see. Perhaps all of creation, other people even, are wired to respond to the voice, the look of another. We are connected in ways we don’t even understand. Powerful in ways we have not recognized. Powerful to bring to life the darkness or light in our own lives and in the lives of others.
Thinking out Loud,
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Clothed in His Presence | Graham Cooke
How do you seek the Lord with all your heart? I know I struggle with how to define ‘Seeking God.’ What does it look like? Is it going off to a monastery in solitude and meditating quietly alone? Is that how I should separate myself as unto the Lord? As appealing as it sounds, and yes, it really does sound lovely to me, that is not what seeking at my house looks like.
It looks like getting up earlier than I want to and having a conversation with God, my heavenly Father who actually wants to talk to me. He doesn’t always stay on my topics, but He does show up when I take the time to wait. I’m not wired to wait well, but over time I’ve gotten better at it.
If I want to seek the Lord I’ve discovered I must create a space in my world where He is welcome. Where He can come and visit with me through His Word, through teachings of others, through my own prayers and through worship. Can He believe I’m in with all my heart, if I don’t set a time or place in my life where He is invited to talk without distractions?
I discovered making that time and waiting for Him were the hardest things to do. My life was so busy, so filled with noise, work, expectations and commitments that any extra time was a great luxury. In the beginning I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that on God, horrible thing to say, but true. Surely God knew how busy I was? It felt wrong, it felt like an extravagance when I should be getting something done. Surely He knew all the things that needed to be accomplished in the next several hours. Would He really want me to simply sit quietly reading, praying and listening?
Yes, He knew and yes, He really wanted me to carve out a time to be with Him. The only way to know God, is to spend time with Him. Simple, right? One of the greatest fights I’ve had is to make a consistent time in my life for God. Everything, and I do mean everything, fights against it.
I saw a picture one day while I was praying. It was a water faucet. I saw my hand turn it on when I needed the water and off when I was done. I felt the Lord’s voice inside saying, “This is what life in the Kingdom of God is like.” I saw that everything I needed was sourced from God. When I needed water, financial resources, emotional supply, hope, peace or anything else that was missing, I could turn on the handle and it would come pouring out of heaven. Wow. What an idea. A true image that there is no lack in God. But I still didn’t really understand how I could access this supply.
One day while I was praying about our finances, I heard the question, “Do you know what the handle of that faucet is?” (See, how He seems to be off topic?) I didn’t know what the handle was.
“It’s stewardship,” He said.
Well, there was a sinking sensation inside my belly and my brain went off with thoughts of despair, because I am a bad steward of money. It has always been a challenge. A feast or famine sort of lifestyle has been my pattern and experience but in the middle of my internal chaotic thoughts I heard Him say—and I need to tell you this is the only time in all my life with God that He has interrupted me. Usually when I start fussing about something He simple stops talking and waits for me to be quiet. Not this time. He spoke right over my thoughts. He said,
“It is not stewardship of money that allows you to live resourced from My Kingdom. It is stewardship of My presence, of our relationship, that determines your connection to the Kingdom.”
Stewarding my time with Him. Whew. I was so relieved that He asked me to do something I knew I could do. He did not shame me for my past but encouraged me into a future of coming closer. Of learning His heart and ways that are so different than mine. He has mysteries, opportunities, strategies to share that I will never know if I don’t sit with Him and wait to hear what’s on His heart and mind. So most mornings you will find me sitting quietly listening, waiting and seeking. Spending the time to steward this spiritual relationship that I thought was my gift to Him but now know it is His gift to me. Join me?
Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. Hebrews 24:7
If you feel out of practice you might grab a cup of coffee or tea, get settled and listen to God tell you how He loves you through Graham Cooke. | Expectations
Or read the post Healing Words from a Dialogue with God by Sylvia Gunter
It feels like I’ve spent most of my life hearing Jesus say, “Are you coming?”
“Are you going to get out of the boat? Will you follow Me down the road wherever it leads?”
I woke up one morning some months ago to hear Him speaking loudly in my heart, “Seek. Seek. Seek.” It surprised me because I thought I was already seeking. But in God there is always more. Every dream, every word, every gift, every challenge is an invitation to come closer. To join Him in a conversation to find out more from His heart. He was asking me to seek Him intentionally, without agenda, with all my heart so I could know Him better.
”You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
My true spiritual quest started a year or so ago when I realized I did not love God with my whole heart. Something in me resisted Him. Some fear lived in a dark corner of my heart. Fear that if I gave God all of me my worst fears would be realized—He would not be a good Father but a terrorizing ruler. One who would see my shortcomings, my lack and my sin and banish me completely.
What lies the enemy of God wraps around us. Like a kitten unraveling a ball of string I followed the string into play until it entangled me completely. Until it immobilized me spiritually with a deep foreboding of who God really was and what He wanted with me.
“In the cave you fear to enter lies the treasure that you seek.”
This quote, attributed to Joseph Campbell, was on a note stuck to my computer for over a year while a loving God softly spoke words of truth and love to my shaking, broken, child heart that was desperately afraid of the dark.
If I could give you one gift it would be the gift of seeing His goodness and intent toward you. YOU are beloved, loved beyond imagination. A world created in beauty, in wonder…for you. A beloved, only Son, given in pain and death…for you, so your heavenly Father could meet with you face to face. His heart longs to be loved by His children. We will never be home until we seek Him through the fear, past the fear into the cave of the unknown. That is faith. That is seeking.
Let Him lead you into the place of unknown. Seek Him to find His Father’s heart that delights in you. When God woke up dreaming, He created you. He created an amazing earth, a lovely garden for us. To show us what He is like. To show us how He loves…in extravagance and beauty. His love is truly never ending but to find it, to find Him, I must look up from my busy tasks and intentionally look for Him. He has promised to be found when I seek.
You are wondrously made. You are delightful. You are God’s Wildest Dream. Seek the One who made you and gave His all to be friends with you. He wants you to find Him. He’s waiting expectantly to fold you in His arms.
Heavenly Father, help us seek you. Help us find you. Help us to receive your love. As Paul prayed, help us to be rooted and grounded in your love, that we may be able to understand what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. Amen.
Music | Reckless Love of God – Live Bethel Worship