As I return to ‘normal life’ after a creative high in the Rocky Mountains, I have to ask the Lord what He wants me to do with what I have experienced and learned. I’ve the beginning of a piece that excites me. I could abandon most of my other creative pursuits and take this direction, but not without first knowing if doing so is within the will of God.
Years ago, I painted wildlife and earned enough money to partly support myself. It was a passion for me, but in my early Christian life, it slipped into an idolatry. I worshiped what I was doing more than the God who gave me the ability to do it.
The Lord asked me to give it up. After much argument and agonizing, I did that, and even though He gave me many other creative outlets, there was never the opportunity or direction to go back to that.
In the past few years, it tugs at me again. I’ve gone into the art supply department of a store, or to a gallery, and felt such a longing that it brought tears to my eyes. On all those occasions, the practical side of me knew that there is no way to fit anything more into my life, and the spiritual side knew that unless God is in this, I cannot start anything or restart where I left off.
However, quilting and teaching quilting has been at His direction. Through this creative activity, I’ve met new people, learned new skills, and had wonderful fellowship with other believers. This past week, at Quilt Art Rockies, the sense of God’s blessing and presence never left me in the two workshops I attended and while I worked on two separate projects. One evening lecture moved my heart so much that I could hardly speak of it afterward. She covered principles of good art, a topic I know, and how it applies to quilt making. Again, I felt the tugging on my heart. Of course I am asking God what I’m to do with all this, and do expect Him to show me.
This morning I read the story of Hannah. She was barren and in sorrow and grief, she asked the Lord to give her a child. In her request, she told God that if He did, she would give him back to Him, to serve Him all the days of his life.
God answered her prayer and Samuel was born. When he was just a little child, Hannah and her husband took him to the priest, Eli, and she “lent him to the Lord as long as he lives.”
At that point, Hannah prayed. She said: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.”
She continues for several verses. Her prayer is joyful and filled with praise for the righteousness and power of the Lord her God. He had given her the child that she longed for, and she gave him back to Him.
In my heart, the Holy Spirit makes a connection. In my case, the longing is not for a child but for the go-ahead concerning creative expression (and a change in my life to make it feasible). My prayer is not one of grief and a sense of loss as it once was when this part of me became more important than God. Instead, I am asking for the same thing, but I can now focus on the wonder of God. He makes us in His image, and because of that, we are creative people. I am able to celebrate that and rejoice in Him because of it. My attitude has changed. Instead of thinking of this skill as ‘mine’ and mine to do with as I wish, I know where it comes from and why it cannot be idolized.
This morning, I see that anything God gives me not only comes from Him, but must be given back to Him. Samuel was His. My ability, and even my desire for creative expression are His too. The process, the journey, the results, all of it, belongs to Him and must be released to Him, not reluctantly and in shame for making it an idol, but with joy and praise. Whatever I am and can do belongs to God and what happens is entirely up to Him.
This does not constitute a “Yes, go for it” at this point, but the sacrifice of Hannah and the joy in her prayer add a dimension to the desires of my heart. I realize I must let Him poke and prod my heart and expose my motives. He alone knows if I am totally willing to let go of the selfishness of ‘self-expression’ and do this His way, in His time, and for His glory.