Thankful for Imperfect Art | 30 Days of Gratitude, Day 11

Art is an earthly representation of the creative power of God, dim and weak in comparison, but undoubtedly so.  We are made in his image, and being made in his image we display, like him, the ability to create and to breath life into our creations.  As an artist, I often find that my creations die too early, or, at least, do not reach full maturity because I forsake them, citing their imperfections as my excuse.

And then it struck me.  What if God had done that with his imperfect art?

All things were good when he made them—perfectly good—but they did not stay that way.  God gave his creatures a will, a will which could choose to follow him or turn from him.  In turning from him, we turned from perfection, and thus into imperfection.

Still, God did not do as I would have done.  He did not forsake his art.  Rather, he pursued it, even became a part of it when he saw fit to take the form of a babe, born amongst peasants, suffer the lowly, hungry life of a working man, and was denied and crucified by the very imperfect creations he had come to pursue and perfect.

How many songs have I left unsung?  How many stories and poems and articles have I left undeveloped and unfinished due to my petty frustration over their iniquities?  Undoubtedly hundreds, but I am thankful that God shows me a different way.  Even now I am tempted to leave this bit of writing undone.  I am tempted to quit the document and never look back at it, too unsatisfied with this sentence, or that word, or the whole concept in general… but I, too, am an imperfect creation, and my creator did not abandon me to non-existence due to my defects.  As an artist, I have a responsibility to my art to develop it, to give it at least a chance at life, even considering its deficiencies.

Thus, as an expression of my thanks in this regard, I hope to be a more responsible creator in the coming year.  In my quest to become more like Jesus, I hope that I will pursue my art, like he did, and gift it existence even when I feel it doesn’t deserve it. Here begins my fight against perfectionism, which has long been the, often victorious, enemy of my work.  It will be a long-fought battle, of that I am certain, but if it was worth it to God, it is worth it to me.

Scotland Trip: The Little Things: Testemony, Tablet, and Tigers

Continuing The Saga

June 8, 2014

The second week’s events began on Monday, as we beat the streets of Edinburgh to finish distributing leaflets for the mission nights approaching on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Incredibly, the five of us, Peter, Patrick, Emma, Mairi, and I, did manage to complete most of the leafletting that afternoon.  God’s hand was certainly at work that day.  For dinner that evening, Emma blessed us with her famous mango chicken, and we discussed the plans for the week.

Tuesday morning Patrick and I left early to go with Emma, Peter, and Mairi to the food bank, run by a Baptist church in Edinburgh.  It wasn’t too busy that morning, but we did get the opportunity to talk to the people that were there, both clients and volunteers,  about their faith.

It was my first experience speaking so openly about Christianity to random members of the public, and it was rather awkward at first.  I wasn’t quite sure how to bring faith into the conversation, but it proved a bit easier, at least, than I had imagined, if not less awkward.  For example, in a conversation about therapeutic riding, I made a comment about how incredible it is that God has given us the ability to form such special bonds with animals… a valid thought, but not one that I would necessarily have voiced in front of a non-Christian.  In choosing to capture that thought and speak it out, voila, God is introduced into the conversation, and you have a free pass to discuss matters of faith.  So, what do we learn from this?  If I can do it, it clearly does not require special expertice… so you have no excuse.  Go tell someone about Jesus… 3, 2, 1, go!

But actually… go!

Okay, you can finish this blog post first if you want.

After lunch and some preparation for the school presentation to take place the following day, Patrick and I returned to Airdrie to take part in the MET (mutual encouragement time) that evening.  We continued our discussion of Esther, and God’s providence in even the tiniest of things.  For me, it served as a reminder that even the little things that we do, like passing out pamphlets for a mission night, or mentioning Christ in a conversation, God can use to change someone’s life.

Wednesday was our first presentation day.  We were prepared, with our five minute testimonies, questions to stimulate discussion afterward, and an idea of how the afternoon would run logistically.  Still, I was nervous.  Would my testimony make sense to these kids, most of whom had little to no working knowledge of the Bible, and likely had known few, if any, Christians.  I commended my words to God, and prayed that He would speak through all of us, so that even one of these children might hear, and one day find hope in Christ.

The students, 12 and 13 year olds, separated into four groups, and rotated around the room between Patrick, Emma, Peter, and I.  Patrick and I gave our testimonies in our groups, while Emma and Peter discussed some of the more nitty gritty theological concepts like sin and the nature of God.

The kids seemed engaged, which was exciting to see, and asked some good questions afterword, including:

“What is it like to live in America?”

“When did you get your guide dog?”

“Do you have a boyfriend?” (clearly the most relevant question, and unfortunately the easiest to answer.

and “Was it easy to commit your life to God?”

which wasn’t so simple to answer, but a wonderful question to hear.  I settled with essentially saying no, it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

That night was the first mission night.  Peter talked about our identity as precious creations of God, and how our identity can only be found in Him.

We spent Thursday on a battle field/grave yard tour, learning more about the conflicts that took place during Scotland’s reformation in the 1600’s, and the surrounding history.  We also got to try Strathavan Toffee, or tablet, which was possibly the most frightening experience of the trip so far.  It is like concentrated cotton candy, or shortbread maybe, in crumbly cookyish toffeeish fudgeish form.  I believe Patrick described it as tasting a bit of diabetes.  I think he may be right.  It tasted nice, I guess, but terrifying… like petting a tiger.  You love the feel of the silky fur beneath your fingers, you are mesmerized by the iridescent orange and black of their coat, but there is that underlying, horrifying knowledge that the tiger in question might turn at any minute and eat you.  So yes, tablet is like a tameish tiger.

We returned to Edinburgh that night to hear about Christ’s identity, as both ruler and rescuer.

Friday was our second presentation, which went much the same as the first, although this time we had Mairi along with us to stimulate discussion.  After lunch, team worship, a wee kip (little nap) in the Loughridge living room, and dinner, it was back to the school for our final mission night, which was a stirring talk on our identity in Jesus.

Leaving that night was hard, knowing I might not see Emma, Peter, Mairi, or anyone from the Edinburgh congregation again, but I suppose Emma was right in saying, “See ya in Heaven.” We do have that to look forward to after all.

It was a fulfilling week, and I am so thankful for everything God has done in the last six days: guiding hands, giving words, strengthening friendships, and softening hearts.  I cannot wait to see what he has planned for the coming week.