When I’m tasked at coming up with a creative concept for, say, Easter, I begin by looking for threads. Threads are those things that hold seemingly disjointed things together. It’s the work of God helping us see the continual work of his grace through the moments, conversations, circumstances, dreams, and prayers of our lives.
Usually I start looking frantically. But I’m learning that the frantic search is never a fruitful one. Threads are found by being both proactive and perceptive, but you must fall silent and speak. You must focus your mind and also give it time to wander.
I always start with myself. Most of my best creativity comes from what’s happening inside me—the things I’m learning, the things I’m opening up to and the things I’m fighting. The work that comes from inside is usually the most honest and raw work I can do. I start looking for the threads of what God is doing in me.
But I don’t stop there. I start having conversations with friends and family, trying to perceive what God is doing in them and what they see happening in the world around them.
I also look for threads in the creative team at church and among the leadership, trying to see the lines and colors of God’s grace that is drawing things together in our personal lives and our church.
In all these places I’m looking for threads. I’m looking for patterns to align, for colors to emerge, for textures to suddenly “feel right” together. Oftentimes, there’s a single word or verse that seems to come up again and again.
I’ve found that the threads I most often end up working with are those that are being sewn so deep that they haven’t yet been processed. In conversation they’re rarely the first thing mentioned, they’re the last. And they’re almost always preceded by a pause—there’s an intake of air, a narrowing of eyebrows, and a far-off look. And then threads come out of our mouths in fits and spurts, with retraced steps and bad vocabulary. Because the best threads aren’t obvious, and they aren’t practiced, so we have to beat around the bush a little before we can get at them.
Hunting for threads is one of the many things I’ve learned through my exploration of creativity, and it’s one of the greatest because it means that I’m learning a new way to listen to God.
Threads may not be how God speaks to everyone, but I’ve found it’s how he most frequently speaks to me. What I’m beginning to realize is that I should be looking for threads all the time, in every aspect of life. Looking for the voice and the wisdom and the presence of God seaming everything together. And then I should be faithful with the gifts he’s given me, and bring those threads to light, draw them out into the open, turn the fabric inside out and upside down so that all can see the intricate work happening underneath.