The Sacred Creative Life

creative

I got to spend the last few days at a family camp for Christian musicians and artists called Escape to the Lake, put on by Under the Radar, one of ReFrame Media‘s subsidiaries. Our retreat location was Conference Point Center on Lake Geneva, in Wisconsin. The rolling grounds are interspersed with mighty old trees, a sandy beach, and scenic trails. Amazing Christian musicians (e.g. Sara Groves, Water Deep, Burlap to Cashmere, Jason Gray, and tons more) moderated panels on topics like songwriting and fostering creativity in your family life. There was a constant flow of music throughout the week; the highlights were the evening concerts given lakeside from an outdoor stage. Think about it: mild summer evening + gourmet music + the sunset over the lake + a shake from the snack shop= pure bliss. It all pointed me to God (well, maybe not the shake) as the dynamic Creator that He is.

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The immersion in music, art, nature, community, worship, and rest left me full of peace and joy because I connected with and sensed God through those things. Things that we don’t always make room for in our day-to-day lives, probably because we’re tempted to categorize our life’s activities into spiritual and un-spiritual. For example: reading the Bible, praying, evangelizing, listen to sermons, raising children and going to church might be considered spiritual and camping, singing, talking with friends, creating art and eating, though perhaps good, are less sacred or spiritual.

How did we come to those types of conclusions? Maybe it’s that we know we’re supposed to be set apart from the world and when we do the things that that unbelievers don’t, we feel like authentic Christians. Maybe it’s because the world has staked claim to many aspects of God’s creations (music, relationships, nature, rest), often twisting them into perversions that barely represent the original intention. But after this week I’m reminded that Christians should freely embrace a creative, beautiful life in joyful response to our Creator because it is sacred and necessary.

Our Christian history points to a shift in the sacred/unsacred divide around the time of the Reformation. Leland Ryken writes,

The Reformers began by rejecting the medieval division of what we do into sacred and secular. All aspects of life lived for God’s glory was sacred…the cornerstone of Protestant thought was the sovereignty of God over all of life, and from this flowed an awareness of God’s creation of the world and his providential concern for it.

Martin Luther, the great reformer (and less known fact a prolific hymn-writer), realized in the 16th century that the church needed a reformation in both the preaching and the singing. It was said of him that people were concerned about his preaching, but terrified of his songs, because they knew the power they had. Keith Getty, a modern day hymn writer shared in a break-out session on worship during the recent Gospel Coalition conference that, “God’s people learn their faith from what they sing.”

God is so multi-faceted that we need to engage in and value things that we have set aside in favor of more “spiritual” things in order to relate to and honor Him fully. He could have created the world in a day, or just a black and white world or a world with no mountains or melodies. But He didn’t do any of those things. He spent effort on his beautiful details. He put care into each unfolding landscape until He reached the culmination, human beings, when He declared about his work, “It is very good.” Consider Romans 1:20, “For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. People can’t dispute the Creator because of the glory of His creation! His creative work shows the truth of who He is and since we were made in His image, our creativity, when done for His glory, also can show the truth of who He is.

I don’t want to define what living creatively as a Christian means because it’ll look different based on the heart and mind God has given you. Maybe it’s setting your table with extra special touches for your family’s meal one night. Maybe it’s taking time to write a poem or paint a picture (even if you never show it to anyone). Maybe it’s spending time outdoors with no technology to disturb you. Perhaps it’s being fully present during a conversation with a friend, and because you’re really listening with your heart and mind, you see them how God sees them. Let the Spirit guide you as you seek to honor God in your life.

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DSC_0175Some ideas for living creatively: (many of these came out of sessions I attended or were my response to points brought up during the sessions)

  • Valuing our creative sides enough to make space for it. Ask yourself, Do I value those aspects enough to say to a would be interruption: I’m writing right now? (or whatever it is)
  • Don’t let how you’ve labeled yourself stop you from trying something new. “I’m not creative/a writer/a singer/an outdoors enthusiast” are labels someone either put on you or you put on yourself. You’re ALLOWED to try it for the first time or try it again. I wasn’t letting myself write for a long time because, “I’m not a writer.”
  • You don’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it. Enjoy the process simply for what it is. Write a poem, paint a picture, sing a song in response to Scripture. God put a creative nature in you to reflect Him. He didn’t intend for every one of us to be occupationally creative, but He calls us to a life of awe and wonder at His glory. There is something in you that wants to respond to Him in that way.
  • Most of us will throw hurdles  in front of ourselves not to get something out there.
  • It takes owning the vulnerability along with the prioritization to do it to create.

Wishing you a sacred creative life,

Heidi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Dianne Huebner says:

    Heidi, Just the words that I needed to hear this am!!! The Lord is using you in His work, creativity and glory!!!

  2. Dianne Huebner says:

    I loved the photos for all of you too, maybe I will go next year, as I love music too!!!

  3. Allison Downing says:

    This blog post reminded me of a scene in the book Meditations from a Moveable Chair by Andre Dubus where the author likens making a PB&J sandwich for his grandchildren to a sacrament. Dubus is in a wheelchair, and doing something as small as opening his fridge or rotating his chair from one countertop to the next takes a huge amount of effort. Through brokenness and the smallness of his ability, he sees how every step involved in making these sandwiches is a sacrifice of made out of love.

    Our imaginations and senses are too finite to fully glory in God, but the pursuit of taking pleasure in God through engagement with His world – from art to exercise to laughing to making PB&J sandwiches – can be a sacred pursuit if we remember that He is the one who gives us strength to do so, even if it is small strength 🙂

    • Can you just imagine when our senses our made new in Christ, how we will be able to bask in His glory in heaven? Here on earth we only get to experience a slice of that, but the more I can “abide” in who He is…through the physical senses, my mind and sacrificial love, hopefully I can rejoice in who He is more and more each day. Let me know if you ever want to guest post… love your way with words!