Spiritual Disciplines and the Artist

Ask a pastor to list spiritual disciplines that are critical for Christian growth and reading the Bible and meditating on its truths may be first mentioned. Others may feel that fasting and prayer ought to top the list.

Polymer Clay
Sara Joseph

Freedom, polymer clay, Sara Joseph

Artists may consider the importance of seeking solitude as vital. We are by nature at ease with solitude. Our creativity craves solitude as a plant needs water in order to thrive. Yet the solitude that is conducive to hearing from God is slightly different from that which is sought by artists to generate creative ideas. Since God speaks primarily through His word, only when our solitude is combined with a diligent study of the Bible can we embark on a creative journey of a different kind.

Early in my Christian journey I had an insatiable appetite for the Bible. A wise friend cautioned me then about the need for making that time of quiet study an unalterable part of my day. Some days I felt spiritually cold and dry yet I read the Bible anyway. It kept me steadfast when I wavered and encouraged me when I would have quit.

As I grew in understanding, I learned that there is a spiritual discipline that supersedes all others. This discipline trumps all the rest because, when exercised, its rewards are phenomenal.

It is the discipline of obedience. Jesus said that if we loved Him, we would obey Him. Loving Him is easy - it's the obeying which is often overwhelmingly difficult!

We possess an independence of will in probably a greater measure than most simply because we are artists. Our creative natures are less likely to submit, preferring instead to chart our own course. We see the world differently, challenging everything and reinventing ourselves continuously with our fertile imaginations.

The spiritual discipline that will surely take a lifetime to master is consciously choosing to obey Jesus and His word. The more we listen as we pray and meditate on His word, the clearer His voice will become.

Determining to unreservedly obey Him will be a decision that will be tested often. It would be dishonest of me to suggest that anything about it is effortless. Yet it was, and is, enormously rewarding. The more I obeyed, the more I sensed His pleasure, and the clearer his truths became to me. I then discovered to my surprise, that the other spiritual disciplines were no longer burdensome tasks.

Instead of feeling obligated to pray, I am awed at the privilege of coming before the God of the universe with my requests. Instead of treating Bible study as an item to check off on my to-do list, I am eager to discover what promise I may have overlooked in its precious pages. Obedience in the little things seems to bring about the unexpected consequence of changing my desires (albeit slowly!)

This act of choosing obedience is a moment-by-moment decision. All my instincts and desires run contrary to God’s best for me. Just acknowledging that most often I will not feel like obeying, somehow makes it infinitely easier to obey.

Obey, Poem by Sara Joseph

Like a child needing to be constantly reined in and redirected, I have become aware of my errant self will. As you can imagine, this poem is an expression of that frustration!

True freedom lies in obedience, despite how contrary that sounds. Your decision to obey Him in the seemingly insignificant details of your life, will translate into a richer expression in your art. How that happens is a little little mystifying.  I can, however, testify to the fact that I know that God has rewarded my feeble attempts at obedience by blessing me areas that mattered most to me.  Art being of great importance became an area in which, among many others, I witnessed growth in inexplicable ways - ways that leave me helpless to say more than - God did it!

And of course, if He did it for me I see no reason why He could not do it for you!

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