Yesterday, I wrote about not falling in love with our creations. I want to elaborate on it a little more today with a real life story. I’ve written about this first part before. What I am doing now, the speaking, the live painting, the storytelling, making videos, all of it feels very much like the fulfillment of a childhood dream. I was the kid who did the little plays for my younger sister and cousin. I was always making pictures and telling stories and doing puppets and ventriloquism when I was really young. My first pay check was for a dollar, for doing my ventriloquist/impression act for the Bernville Women’s Club when I was six. Then life happened. In school I was a human target and before long anything that made me stand out was something to be feared and avoided. By the time High School came around, I was terrified to speak in public and that dream was dead forever, or so I thought.
But one dream remained. I could make art. I was always pretty good at it. I now know it was a God-given gift, back then it just felt like the one thing I could do that wasn’t put down. I thought I would be a professional artist, perhaps a designer or illustrator, but my parents tried to stifle that. I do not hold this against them. They were looking out for me and they knew that to would be hard to make a living in the field. I went to school in an unrelated field, but when it became clear that track wasn’t going to work, I started to hustle and began eking our a living as an artist/designer. I even had some level of success, and while I never made a lot of money, I did get to do a few pretty high profile projects and somewhere in the midst of all that, I came to Christ. Here’s where it gets interesting. My art career began to be in conflict with my faith. It was fast becoming an idol. I fought this conviction for a long time. The reason for this was simple. I was in love with my plan. I was an artist, it was my identity. It was all I was good at and it was all I wanted to do.
The battle raged on and, no surprises here, God won. I came to the end of myself and I laid down my dream. My call to ministry was almost instantaneous but, to be honest, it seemed absurd. Public speaking was still a major fear for me, and it’s sort of a vital skill in ministry. None of it made sense, but God was at work. Through a series of developments, which will make this story way too long, God made the connection between art and ministry in my life. In the process, I began to tell stories, paint live and do all the stuff I was doing today. Please understand this, to be a professional artist, was a lesser dream than what God had in store for me, but in order to get to that point, I had to lay down what I knew and plunge into the great unknown. Today I have a better, happier, more fulfilling life than I could have ever known, but to get there, I had to fall out of love with my dream and love God more. I often wonder if that was what Jesus meant when He said, “Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.”
Hold your plan loosely and your God tightly. He will make a way.