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Be Radiant

Be Radiant

Is 60:1-2 TPT
Rise up in splendor and be radiant, for your light has dawned, and Yahweh’s glory now streams from you!
Look carefully! Darkness blankets the earth, and thick gloom covers the nations,
but Yahweh arises upon you and the brightness of his glory appears over you!

I woke up this morning thinking about all the people around me who are expressing the Lord in some creative way. Those verses in Isaiah no longer felt like a mysterious promise of something in the future. I saw His glory rising on His children everywhere. All those who have been seeking and obedient to step out, to press on, to not give up their creative work even when they feel their gift is small, their offering inferior.
As you have given yourselves, your time, and your gifts to God, He is raising you up. As you lift the name of Jesus, the name above every name, He is being glorified.

Like the moon lights the darkness with the reflected light of the sun, so we reflect the glory of God in the despair that covers the earth.

Art speaks. It tells stories in the language of the heart. Each creative work carries the voice of God. As trees, rivers, and flowers express God’s beauty, creativity, and love, so our art speaks light in a world filled with sadness and fear.

It’s not the beauty or perfection of the work as measured by a critic’s standard that makes our art valuable—it is the fingerprint of God; the heart of God coming through our brush, our pen, or musical instrument. When His voice lives in me, in you, when He is at home in us, everything we create is uniquely ours and God’s. No one can produce the expression of God that I do or that you do. God is to you and through you something the world is crying to see, to experience in their hunger, fear, and pain.

HIS GLORY

I do not argue the technical merits, features, or importance of a work of art or piece of writing or music, but one thing I know. If God is in you, then God is in your art. He is in your creative work. The Spirit of God living in the spirit of you and I, the artists, writers, poets, musicians, sculptors, inventors, and makers of all kinds touches all that we make.

As we send our work out into the world to speak, it shimmers in ways we do not even understand. His glory in you and I and in our work begins to fill the earth. Our art can take God places no person can go. It can touch parts of people’s hearts that they don’t even know exist. Our art can begin to heal wounds people aren’t even aware they have. God’s Spirit can speak so loudly and clearly through our creative works. Which is why it’s critical for us to do this work. To steward our creative calling.

SEEDS

Creating artistic work is a spiritual matter. Its effect can only be measured by God. Its impact can only be delivered by God. I don’t know how to measure or judge God’s outcomes. 

Counting seeds in an apple tells me how many trees might grow from this one fruit but it doesn’t tell me how many more apples will grow on all those trees. There is life in the seeds that we have no capacity to see. There is the touch of God’s life within seeds that we have no ability to measure.

That’s how I am with my creative work. I get all excited seeing that I’ve finished something or I get discouraged, wishing I was creating more or better work, while God waits, oh so patiently, for me to plant the seed so He can bring forth the life He’s put within it.

OBEDIENCE

I’m learning to obey this call to create. To honor this gift. To give God time to be with me in my creating. I’m learning to make room for it. Intentionally, giving space in my schedule to create. There’s been a shift in how I think about being creative. I used to struggle to give myself permission to make art. To create stories. But a few months ago, I felt this call became a point of obedience. He was no longer gently coaxing me to follow Him down this path. He was there. Standing in front of me, asking me whether I would write or not. Giving me a choice to decide whether I would follow Him in this. Or not. And I understood how very important artists and their creative activities are to God.

DESIGNED TO CREATE

We are authors, poets, musicians, sculptors, and artists because God calls us that. Long before there were art critics or success standards, there was art. There was God’s expression of creativity and love.

God created us artists before a single day of our lives began. While He was thinking of us with love, God designed us to create. He called us artists. If He has said it is so, who can say it is not? No one. Not even us. We, who are sometimes so unsure of what we carry, cannot say against the voice of God that we are not creative. That we are not artists.

Our art, our works, speak life, peace, and hope because we live with God. He is in our very cells. He is in our creating. We are anointed to create and our works carry God into the world. Wherever it goes, our work speaks to hearts in words only they understand. Heals in ways we cannot imagine. Write, sing, paint, sculpt, draw, craft and create….

It matters more than you know.

Blessings on all your dreaming and making!

The Call of the Creative

The Call of the Creative

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.