My Approach to Art: Get Ready and Wait

By November 5, 2009 culture, faith No Comments

Breath for the Bones Book Club: Thoughts on Chapter 6

Within all of creation there is potential for beauty and chaos. We only have to look within ourselves to see these two forces at work. Nature illustrates it daily, with its wind that can either make the tree branches shimmer or uproot the whole mass as if it were a mere twig.

We may pretend otherwise, but the world and all in it is unpredictable. Our world reflects its Creator, who is also unpredictable.

Unpredictable doesn’t mean untrustworthy, however. On the contrary, God’s actions never veer from the holiness and goodness of His character, although the means He uses are ever new. It is God’s heart that we can trust.

I have come to find peace in the wildness of God. If God were predictable, I would be able to corner Him, box Him in, control Him. That sort of god deserves no respect. The true God, however, cannot be managed or tamed. These qualities are most shockingly seen in God’s unending, untamed love for us, displayed at the cross of Jesus Christ where His perfect life is given so that sinful man might be reconciled back unto this wild, unpredictable, loving God.

Consider this conversation between the characters in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as they discuss meeting the Great Lion Aslan, who is a sort of Christ figure:

Lucy: “Is he safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

Mrs. Beaver: “That you will, dearie, and make no mistake, if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

Lucy: “Then he isn’t safe.”

Mr. Beaver: “Safe? Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

In our attempts to feel safe with an unpredictable God, we might redefine Him to our own liking or ignore Him or take on an air of (ignorant) bravery. But this does not change God—for He is the King, I tell you.

And why change Him? For although He isn’t safe and predictable, He is good. And He wants us to draw near to Him.

As a Christian artist, I come near to this good yet unsafe God because He is my Muse. I create by His nudges and promptings—which are also unpredictable. And that’s the adventure of working with God. Luci Shaw explains it like this in Breath for the Bones chapter 6, “Listening to the Muse”:

Spirituality is very like the creative impulse toward art—often fickle and unpredictable. We have an untamable, undomesticated Spirit (whom we tend to trivialize and formulize in order to feel safe), and the artistic and spiritual gifts from his holy hand are not to be summoned with a flick of the wrist or a pleading tone of voice. (Shaw 79–80)

As I see it, the work of the artist, the Christian who is an artist, is to get ready and wait. For “art and belief are not conveniences, nor do they call to us at convenient times” (Shaw 81). God is not on my timetable; I am to adjust to be on His.

I get ready by listening for my Muse’s call on the wind, by seeking to commune with Him in quiet and solitude, and by seeking to know Him (and not merely use Him for my artistic purposes).

And I wait for my Muse to inspire and move and infuse my creative offering for the unsafe yet good, untamable yet trustworthy God.

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