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The Christian Palette, Issue # 22, Quietness and Creativity
July 14, 2017
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Quietness and Creativity
If you are like me, you crave the ability to be creative. I'd like my artwork to connect the unconnected, be extraordinary, and somehow point to the goodness of Jesus. My ambitions are grand. Yours are probably the same.
In contrast, there is the reality of my work itself, which never seems to reflect my lofty aspirations for it. It puts a subtle pressure on me that takes me a while to recognize. Precious minutes are wasted fretting about my incompetence every time I tackle a project. What I envisioned is always in stark contrast to what I actually create!
Unfortunately, creativity is only unleashed when there is no pressure. For true creative output, our inner turmoil has to be silenced.
Experts have known this for quite awhile. They state that an attitude of playfulness helps, as does a willingness to experiment. But I find it a challenge when I’m gritting my teeth and feeling frustrated. There surely is a better way.
As I was reading the Bible the other day, I was struck by a rather obscure person entrusted with an important task called Seraiah. I’ve never heard anyone talk about him. The Lord taught me some important lessons about him in my study that I’d like to share in the hope that it will help you too.
The first reference to Seraiah in Jeremiah includes a powerful adjective that described him.
“The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And this Seraiah was a quiet prince.” Jer 51:59
How unusual that he was singled out for his quiet spirit! The Hebrew word for “quiet” is “mĕnuwchah” which means “a state of rest or repose.”
Seraiah was pointed out to Jeremiah by God for his unusual disposition. The quality of stillness that he manifested in his daily life was so noticeable that it merited a mention in the Bible! Therefore, it is a quality of immense worth to God, right?
Am I making much of a single adjective or is such a quality commended elsewhere in the Bible?
There is a supporting verse in the New Testament that also affirms this truth.
“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”1 Pet 3:3,4
Here the Greek word for “quiet” is “hēsychios” also meaning tranquil.
As Christian artists, if we long for our creativity to be a reflection of our relationship with the Lord, then we must develop a quiet spirit. Only then can we become the repositories of His ability, intent and purposes.
God, through Jeremiah, entrusted His holy Word to Seraiah to transport in a scroll to Babylon to read out loud there, in the land of the enemy. Then he was to tie a stone to that scroll and toss it into the Euphrates. As the waters swallowed up the scroll so, declared God, would Babylon sink, never to rise again. Deadly words to be spoken in a terrifying environment!
Seraiah had to calmly stand among his captors, exposed and vulnerable, and declare these outrageously inflammatory words! He had to perform this act which would have seemed unlikely and ridiculous to them.
Quiet Seraiah surely possessed an inner core of steel. He had to have developed fearlessness as well as trustworthiness. Yet none of those qualities are mentioned, only his quietness!
His quietness, I suspect, came from a close walk with God and the strength that he drew from it. God, the Great Revealer, chose him and revealed His plan to Seraiah, because he habitually stilled himself from the noise of the carnal world to receive from Him.
In the New Testament verse where God is clearly described as valuing a quiet spirit, the word used for “great price” is “polytelēs,” meaning precious.
A quiet spirit does not come easily. It is costly, developed by a continual surrender to God of our plans and intentions.
When we still ourselves, He speaks. When He speaks, we can pick up our brush and paint, or set our hands to music, or clay, or to any other creative endeavor He calls us to. Then, and only then will our work bear His imprint because He initiated it.
But first, we have to care enough to become still before Him.
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