I can’t remember a day without knowing God. My memory of knowing Him begins the same place all my memories begin—about 4 years old. I’ve known God’s presence like I’ve known the presence of the sun. Because of this experience with God, I examine everything that happens to me in the light of what I know about Him. Also with anything I attempt, I have a compulsion to relate my efforts back to God. If I can’t, then I’m soul sick.
For example, my creative work—paintings, stories, poetry, fabric art—must all eventually express about His presence, or I stop doing the activity. Not because I think it’s wrong to do activities for the action alone, but they eventually become meaningless FOR ME to do them without a connection back to God and His purposes. I can’t help this obsession. A psychiatrist might say I am mentally ill. I say I am only doing what has become a way of life, and continued for decades—seeking for Him. He lets me find Him and became integrated in my life so long ago, that I know no other way to exist.
I’m not unique. Others have a similar history. Some say we’re Christians. I say we’re God junkies. Because I acquired my taste for God when I was so young, my addiction does not have much of a ‘before’ life.
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I wasn’t born knowing who God was. I was taught. Like a parent teaches a child to throw a ball, sew a seam, or play dominoes, my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles taught me about God and how He relates to the world. I took their teaching along with errors in that teaching, (or my erroneous perceptions), and since then, I’ve been sorting through this stack of available ‘God knowledge’ every day of my life. Most of the reliable ‘God knowledge’ I keep comes backed by the Bible and the things God has done in my life. Anything that is not backed by what the Bible teaches or God’s work on me, I have to discard no matter how attractive the ‘sound bite’ is.
In all this collecting of God facts, I have only stored a smattering of the vast truth about who God is and what He does. There is so much more to learn, because He IS so much more. The only thing I can say for sure…my collection of God knowledge is only just begun. Any information I have about Him is only because He has been generous. He gives free information to ALL who seek Him. He is not partial to me. He has no favorites, and that’s something I love about Him.
Now, confession time. Sometimes I fail in my creativity connection with God. I have two specific problems, my pride, and my pride.
Consider this, unlike a writer, drama, or visual artist, a singer has more routine opportunities to go before the church and lift up God in a song. Or they can lead others in singing. What are the options for a Christian novelist? My strategy is to write my story well enough to be accepted for publication. Then maybe my work will point others back to Him. I could print my stories from a home printer, or pay for self-publishing and distribute my work as able. Instead I have chosen to work hard to publish in a very restricted market. My drive to get to that place can be daunting, exhausting, and futile.
So my first pride problem is the large amount of potentially unrewarded effort it will take to bring a subtle God-pointing message to others via engaging fiction. (People in the fiction business stress incorporating only a subtle God message because they say the reader doesn’t want preaching, they want to be entertained.) My pride has a tendency to latch onto the “I-worked-so-hard-I am-entitled-to-get” philosophy. I often don’t want to work if I’m not guaranteed a reward. The Bible says only God gives gain, and not all who work hard get what they think they should receive, but by His grace, we’ve all received more than we deserve.
My second pride problem is this. I believe publishing a book could open a box more potentially destructive than Pandora’s. I’m not kidding. Since the masses won’t read the mundane, I must become good enough to compete. Fears, doubt, insecurity, boasting, arrogance are only a few of the many ills that can be released by competing. Since my history with God has taught me any good I do worth counting comes only from Him, I must maintain this perspective, in spite of acceptance or rejection, status or anonymity, accolades or attitude. It will be an unending challenge.
Here’s the short version of my potential downfall. I seek to publish, so I can ‘publish’ about the God that I seek, but just as seals are trained to hold balls on their noses for applause, so my life of creating could evolve. I could become addicted, or despairing over reward or applause, or the lack of either, instead of focused on God.
Here is what Psalm 75 says, reflecting on “blowing your own horn.” Living for accolades, being arrogant, boastful, or proud puts me in direct conflict with my God Almighty.
“Lift not your horn on high, speak not with a stiff neck and insolent arrogance. For NOT from the east nor from the west, nor from the south come promotion and lifting up. But God is the Judge! He puts down one and lifts up another. The horns of the ungodly (proud, arrogant, boastful…) I will cut off, but the horns of the uncompromisingly righteous shall be exalted.”
So, like all wisdom in the Bible, I learn from Psalm 75 what I should NOT do, but then I also find information about what I SHOULD do. It says….
We give praise and thanks to You, O God, we praise and give thanks; Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near, and they who invoke Your Name rehearse your wonders.
I like the word rehearse. It brings the proper balance to my task. It speaks of creativity, but only as it reflects the original Creator, the Master Playwright—God himself.
I need to pick His wonder and rehearse this, not arrogance.