If we are painters we must paint. If we are dancers we must dance. If we are writers we must write. If we are artists we must create. Creation is our imperative.
Two years ago I sat down at my computer to write. I had forty minutes before I had to be in a meeting to plan the weekend's services. For the last month or so I had been dry; there hadn't been a creative spark much less a fire.
As a creative director, walking into a meeting week after week without having anything to offer begins to make you wonder why you're there at all.
But that day something was brewing. And I was a little angry about it. We were teaching on God's holiness, and words had started coming to me out of the blue. I spent about twenty minutes fighting an inner battle as to whether or not I would actually follow through and write.
"I only have an hour. What good is that going to do? I'd rather go into the meeting empty-handed than have some half-written, barely thought through...something or other."
But something told me I needed to write. I needed to get this one out. And so, forty minutes before the meeting I began to write. And the words just flowed. They had rhythm and rhyme, and I was surprised by them. As I walked into the meeting a few minutes later I knew that what I had was less than a third of the completed piece, and I didn't even know what it was.
I'd decided to keep it to myself. Lay low for one more meeting, and let the opportunity, and the topic, and the piece disappear in the rush of the week ahead. But throughout the meeting, as I tried to keep quiet ,my palms started sweating, and my heart started pounding.
Finally, just before we wrapped up, I blurted out, "I might have something."
All eyes turned to me. And waited.
"I don't even know what it is, exactly," I said. "I guess it's a…" I didn't know how to label it. "I think it's…a spoken word."
All eyes were still on me. A couple eyebrows raised, waiting.
So I started reading. My mouth was dry, and I think my throat closed off once, but I read. Then I waited, without breathing, my face hot and my gaze boring into the screen of my laptop, not wanting to meet the eyes of anyone in the room. And it was silent.
And then someone spoke. "Wow."
And someone else. "We have to do that this weekend."
And another. "I can't wait to hear the rest."
That day, that meeting, that small act of obedience started me on a whole new trajectory of creativity that I could not have engineered. Again and again I have had words tumble into me, and I have chosen to be obedient and allow them to flow out of me. I have seen these words move people and change people. I have seen them speak truth and shout the gospel in places where it had not previously been welcome.
I have been used. In tiny decisions–small acts of obedience–I have seen the Holy Spirit move in the hearts and minds of people. Through spoken word I have realized that I am a mouthpiece for God. That as an artist I can be a pastor, a teacher, a prophet and an evangelist.
And I saw this confirmed in the most incredible way a few days ago.
Monday morning I was reading 2 Chronicles. Skimming, really. I'd been in 1 Chronicles and lost interest in the genealogies and city names. My mind had begun to wander, so I started flipping pages. I stopped in 2 Chronicles 2 where Solomon prepares to build the temple of the Lord.
I hate to admit it, but I have only very rarely read any of 2 Chronicles. I've certainly never taken any special note of it, studied it, or memorized it. But as I came to verse 6 I saw these words:
...heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him...
I stopped. My mouth opened in surprise. Here, nearly word-for-word, was a line from God Is Holy, my very first spoken word, written two years earlier.
And heaven, Highest heaven, Cannot contain him Cannot attain him Cannot explain him.
And it was that phrase "highest heaven" that really struck me. I remembered writing those words. I remembered feeling confused by having written them. The phrase had looked wrong. How could there be a heaven higher than heaven? I had crossed it out and almost immediately written it again just underneath. I didn't understand it, but it was right somehow.
And as I stared at those words in 2 Chronicles the affirmation of God came crashing down on me.
God had spoken his word through me. HIS VERY WORDS. I'd always believed (or hoped) this was true in some abstract way, but here it was confirmed. His immutable word had been put in my heart, my mind and my mouth.
This is the power of art. Our God speaks to us. Our God speaks through us. Friends, the work that we do is so much more than we realize. We need only be obedient.