Throw it all in the pan and boil it down. What's left when the steam clears? What moves you? Motivates you to get up and thrash out another days work? Is it money? Notoriety? Discovery? A slew of reasons may be in the mix and none without merit, but at the end of the day when the fires burn away all that's vapor what's the concentrated cry that remains?
For me it is Kingdom. Not my own.
My purpose in all I do is to extend a Kingdom not of this world.
I want JESUS to be known. I what Him re-presented to the world in ways that open eyes and hearts to reality.
I find it hard to understand how a man or woman can discover the treasure in the field and taste the powers of the world to come, and walk away as if nothing has happened. How can a Christian not have Jesus woven into every strand of fabric in their lives?
A Jesus marriage.
A Jesus business.
Jesus child-rearing. Jesus reading. Jesus writing. Jesus singing. Jesus sleeping. Jesus eating. Jesus walking. Jesus watching. Jesus waiting. Jesus hoping. Jesus cooking. Jesus talking. Jesus painting. Jesus thinking. Jesus breathing.
Settler or Soujourner?
Too many creative souls settle on the dusty plains, forgetting their identity. You are not an artist, or a musician or a painter. Not a sculptor or a sewer. These are activities we undertake, creative stewardships we've been delegated for a short time passing though.
But our identity is rooted in something far more enduring than our creations.
If we are too invested in what we make and tie our worth too tightly to the mast of our work when the world shoots cannons and our boat is rocked or sinks, we go down with it thinking we are a failure.
But even at the bottom of the sea I AM! Even in the weeds I BELONG!
You are child of the King! A citizen of a Kingdom come and coming!
Nothing else will matter on that day when we stand before our Savior and give account.
Will He ask, "What did people think of you?"
Will His concern be, "Did people like your work, and were you popular with your peers?"
No, my dear creative friend, the King's concern is His Kingdom not yours. In what way have you served a purpose bigger than yourself with the wisdom bestowed upon you?
As James Victore said in his book, Feck Purfuction (forgive the crudity):
"A purpose gives your life meaning. It's a reason to get out of bed. With a purpose, your life is no longer about you and your needs, but about serving a larger community. It's about making work that matters and that directly affects the lives of others. It's about doing work out of love and a sense of belonging, not because we have to.
Financial success is great, but the world doesn't need more millionaires. We need more creative people who give a damn about something other than themselves."
You have a place of belonging!
Let's face it, to a large degree the "church" has done a lame job of embracing creativity. Creative folks are often too feisty, they keep straying beyond the bounds of convention. They refuse to be tamed and you never know what they will do next. If our creative gifts don't sit within a strict remit of two fast songs and one slow, or perhaps a flair for hospitality, we often languish on the perimeter, wondering why the church prefers beige instead of a festival of colour and sound.
But believe me, you have a larger community to serve. A generation of outliers who don't buy religious platitides. Whose young soul has already grown weary of stock responses from the pulpit. They are looking for songs that carry Kingdom. Pictures that scratch the blinds from their eyes and pull them headlong into eternity. They long to grasp grissly blood-soaked truth that hangs on a cross and smashes open tombs, rather than the sanitized hand wipe rhetoric of career Christianity.
Jesus did not come for your comfort. He did not come so you could feel at home in this doomed world of wantonness. He came with the glistening sword of truth and has cut you free to become a creative force in your generation. A dump truck of heaven's gems into a world seeking jewels in the stinking dirt of life.
Remember this next time you come to create.
God is not in a box! His work is unbound and untamed:
"For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act." Isaiah 28:21
As in mount Perazim, the mount of breakthrough!
"So they came up to Baalperazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters: therefore they called the name of that place Baalperazim (Lord of the breakthrough)." 1 Chronicles 14:11
So what if your work is strange? When did normal ever make a mark? So what if you are misunderstood? Has Jesus not called you outside the camp to bear His reproach?
"Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." Hebrews 13:13
Your breakthrough comes in the heat of battle. Fighting for your creativity to finally find expression. It takes guts to step out on the field and put yourself out there where criticism is the native tongue.
But don't allow discouragement to slice your feet from under you. Hobble on your stumps if necessary, but take the step.
Do your work, your strange work!
I think its high time the Church of Jesus Christ emerges from its compromised and invisible position and once again takes a stand in the arts.
Its time for a marvelous and miraculous undeniably powerful and unashamedly politically incorrect message to bellow from the creative church community and slay the cultural giants who are lumbering on the field showering their taunts on the armies of Israel.
Arise you Davids. Dance you Deborahs.
You were born to eat Breakthrough for breakfast!