I probably don’t have to do much work to convince you that a relationship with God is important for the artistic process. But I’d like to take the opportunity to go into more detail into how we as artists interact with each part of the Trinity, and how those interactions shape and empower our art.
God the Father
We can create because God is the Creator. When we make something beautiful, we bring joy to our Heavenly Father, who is so proud to see His kids taking after Him. He made the heavens and the earth in part because it pleased Him to make something where there was nothing, and in part to give us something to use for our own creations. For now, we get the earth to practice with. But one day, we’ll get the heavens as our inheritance, and the greatest paintings in the world are mere doodles compared to what we’ll be able to create there.
Because of God the Father, no matter how hidden you are as an artist, you have one fan who’s always looking forward to everything you create: your Heavenly Father. He’s crazy about you. He’s counted all the hairs on your head. He’s memorized everything you’ve ever made. And He’s so looking forward to everything you’re going to make next that he peeked into the future to see it before you do. The world may reject your art, misunderstand it, or not even notice it. But God sees. God knows. God understands the parts that you can’t even explain to yourself. No matter how famous you get or how popular, you will never be more seen than you are by your Heavenly Father. If this isn’t sinking in yet, listen to Francesca Battistelli’s “He Knows My Name.” She expressed it far better than I ever could.
Christ the Son
I worry sometimes that all my talk about the depth of meaning I see in the arts will paralyze readers. Will they see that and think, “I can’t live up to that! My art is nothing like what he’s describing.” In our weakness, there is Jesus. His sacrifice is making all things right. Because of that, you can do anything, but you need do nothing. Whatever flawed scribblings you put in His nail-scarred hands are redeemed to do amazing things, because His glory shines best through your weakness. Whatever failings and mistakes you make become tools to glorify God and bring honor to His name.
Jesus is also God made manifest in this world. Who could hope to portray the Lord God Almighty? Who could fathom the mysteries of His Holy Spirit? But Jesus is God come down to us, taking on our weaknesses and our limitations, in a form we can just begin to understand. In Jesus, we find something to depict, something we must depict. It still seems almost blasphemous to do so, impossible to even imagine doing. But all Christians are called to represent Christ, and for those of us who are gifted at representing Him through art and called to that purpose, how can we expect to do otherwise?
The Holy Spirit
It is because we are God’s children that we must create. It is because we are saved by the blood of Christ that we are free to err. But it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are given everything we require to succeed. When God ordered the tabernacle to be constructed, He didn’t simply lay down instructions and leave humans to their own devices. No, He called forth Bezalel and filled him with the Holy Spirit to grant him ability in every form of art needed for the task and then brought helpers to partner in the work. That same blessing is available to you and me today. There is no area of the arts God has called us to where He will not send the Spirit to teach us everything we need to know, to inspire us as our Heavenly Muse, and to work with us and through us as our partner in the arts, as well as among us with any other partners he sends our way.
Sometimes, the Spirit will seem distant, and we’ll feel like we’re struggling on our own. I used to think this was something to be avoided, and if I were more spiritual, I could realize the Spirit’s presence at all times. But I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t how things work at all. Maybe the Spirit chooses not to manifest at times to give us opportunities to grow in our faith, in our character, and in our talents, somewhat like a parent watching their child learn to do a new task rather than the parent doing the task for the child. These challenging times can stretch us to near our breaking points, but should we really be surprised that if we want to connect with the transformational power of the cross, it’s going to feel like being crucified?
But sometimes the Spirit comes in power, and there’s nothing like that. During those times, you get a glimpse of how the arts will work in heaven. Inspiration flows and everything comes out the way it was supposed to the first time, rather than in the eighth iteration. When this happens in my writing, I feel energy and wisdom flowing through me. I’m not reaching inside myself for insights to throw at people. What I’m writing is coming from a higher place, and I feel its power as it moves through me, affecting me in the same way I hope to affect readers. I hand it to other believers, and they get excited about what they see, because the Holy Spirit is showing them what’s going on as well.
I’d like to give you a secret to living like this more often. But if there is one, I don’t know it, except to say that prayer and humility might help. In the meantime, be diligent in developing yourself as an artist. Be ready. You can’t control when the wind blows, but you can have your sails up ready for when it comes. And when it happens, hold on, because it’s about to get exciting!
Are You Missing Out?
My intended audience is for followers of Christ, but maybe that’s not you. You’re reading this, and it sounds good, maybe even too good to be true, but nothing you could ever experience. Or maybe your walk with God is more of a sit or even a backslide. You’re doing things your own way, and it’s not working. There’s a better way.
A lot of people think they’re okay with God, but they rarely bother asking Him what He thinks about the matter. He lays it out clearly in Scripture: He expects perfection. Any sin, no matter how small it might seem to us, falls short of His standard. And we’ve all done that. It would be hopeless if not for Christ.
For every sin, there is a punishment. This is the demand of justice, and it is a price we cannot afford to pay. But Jesus Christ came to this earth and paid it for us in full. We can’t work for it. We can’t earn it. But all we’re asked to do is accept it. If we do, we’re right with God immediately. He sees us as if we’d lived a life of perfect holiness. Pride says there’s got to be more, something you can do to prove you’re more spiritual than those other people who deserve hell. Don’t listen. Salvation is a free gift, and it’s available to everyone, no matter how sinful they think they are. In fact, it’s the people who our world praises most for their goodness that have the hardest time realizing their need for a savior, and very few of them enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
If you’re reading this and realizing that this is what you need, then stop right now and accept Him. Pray, “God, I’ve made a mess of my life, and everything I’m attempting is going nowhere. I need You. Only You can save me. Please, come into my heart, forgive everything I’ve done, and cleanse me. Remake me from the inside out to be who I was always meant to be. In Jesus name, may it be done.”
But maybe you’ve prayed this prayer, experienced salvation, and then abandoned it to live your own life on your own terms. You’re not just going through a season of feeling distant from God, you’ve chosen to abandon His ways and have nothing to do with Him. You might end up in heaven one day. But right now, you’re going through a hell of your own making. There’s the big Salvation once and for all, but there’s also the little salvations where every moment and every action has the chance to be redeemed. If you’re wondering when’s the best time to turn back to God and live in His presence, the answer is now.
Cameron Miller, writer
Illustrated by Deana Harvey,
artist at Tree of Life Art Gallery, Roanoke, IN