Do you ever have trouble starting something new that requires inspiration? Like writing a paper, creating an art project or tackling a challenge at work? If you don't struggle in this area I congratulate you. If you do I have a story to tell.
I was at church one night when in my mind's eye I saw a picture of Jesus grinning by a large barrel.
"Come here," he said and proceeded to pour me a glass of something. Only slightly hesitant I saw myself taking it and drinking it.
Afterwards I asked, "So what is this?"
"It's inspiration," Jesus said, patting the top of the barrel, "And this belongs to you."
"Me?" I looked down and thought I saw something swimming in my glass. As I peered closely it was like a tiny movie was playing in the reflection of the liquid. Was I literally drinking a new story?
"Yes. Do you remember the old Greek legend about the muses?"
"The beings that inspired creativity?"
He nodded. "It was believed that artists had to appease them, and even chase them. Many people still view their creative gifts that way. That inspiration will strike when you least expect it, and if you don't drop everything and cater to the thought or idea it will vanish. Who knows when it will strike again? It's easy to become a slave to the process if you are constantly dropping important things to chase inspiration."
"I'm very familiar with that thought process. Is that how creativity really is?"
"In part. It's true ideas can come out of nowhere but the lie appears when you believe you have no control when an idea will come. You see this barrel? In my kingdom inspiration is always on tap. In fact there are whole rooms in Heaven devoted to inspiration and stories not yet born. Because you are my daughter you can dip into them any time you ask."
And that promise has remained true even years later. I have never been left high and dry without a creative word or picture to paint. It doesn’t always hit instantly, but if I wait and ask it always comes. This takes a lot of fear out of creating because I know I will have something to work with. God provides the raw materials and then we get to sculpt them together.
Maybe you feel like you have to chase inspiration in your area of influence and that it often eludes you. I encourage you to ask God to give you access to the inspiration He has gifted you, both now and into the future. Why don't you take a moment and ask? If you need help you can read along with the pray below.
Heavenly father, thank you for being good and for the areas of influence You have given me. I ask for the creativity and inspiration to help those around me and to grow. Give me access to the divine thoughts and strategies You have already established in Heaven so that I can walk out my calling. I choose to receive them and to wait on your timing. Thank You.
I'm excited for the new stories and inspiration that is waiting to flow through you. The world needs what you are going to bring forth.
It was February 2014.
I wrinkled my face in disgust and put my paintbrush down. Slowly I sat and then lay on my back facing the painting. My gaze was locked on the fresh brushstrokes, but my thoughts were racing past the canvas and out the window to the perceived crises eating at my inner peace.
Less than a year after graduating with a BA in psychology I was not where I had expected to be in life. Although I had a loving boyfriend and great community in Portland health complications had forced me to take an extended leave of absence. For months I had been “stuck” at my parents' home in Alaska where doctors struggled to give me clear answers. At this point my health was tolerable and I had finally bought my return ticket to Oregon.
But a recent phone call threatened to shatter my return plans. The family I had been living with needed to move and they no longer had room for me and all my stuff. They would be out of the house before I even landed in Portland and my back up living arrangements had also fallen through.
Some people would not panic at the thought of landing in an airport without knowing where they were going to living but at this stage in my life that idea terrified me. I toyed with the idea of staying in Alaska longer. Deep down I didn't want to stay but fear was clouding my vision to see past my housing situation.
My focus came back to my bedroom and the canvas in front of me. So far it was a painting of a bridge only partly built. The ropes extended across the canyon but the planks where not all in place. They were coming down from heaven one at a time. There was also an alternative path to the left of the bridge, a stair that snaked down the side of the canyon. When I first saw this picture during a prayer time I knew that the seemingly safer path would not get the view to their desired destination. I would call this piece “Choices”. Would my views choose the safer route or chose to step out before all the pieces were in place?
And then it hit me. "That was my life right now!"
I started to cry. I had seen the picture of the rope bridge several weeks earlier. Before the plane ticket was bought and before my housing had fallen through. I thought it was for a friend I knew who also had an important life decision ahead of her. But no. This was one of those moments that God had a message for me in my painting that I didn’t realize until the piece was almost finished.
I felt convicted by God's timing but also comforted. He had already given me a word about my situation through my artwork. I could choose to stay in Alaska which was the safer route but it would not get me where I wanted to go. Or I could take a leap of faith with a half built bridge and trust God would put down the planks when I needed them.
Based on my knowledge of God's character and an art piece I chose not the cancel my flight.
Many years later I now have several personal examples of when God has used paintings to confirm where I am in life or where He is directing me. I have also watched other people experience the same guidance. I call this inspired art and it's normally not the kind of pictures you find at IKEA.
How do you know that an art piece is aligning with your life? It's that moment when you encounter a painting or another art form and your heart cries out "That is my life" or "I need that message in my life." It can happen during any season and it will happen more often if you look for it. Connecting with art on a spiritual level is something I pray all of you get to experience many times in life.
How did my leap of faith end?
Two days after I realized the connection with the bridge and I made the decision to still go to Oregon I got a phone call out of the blue. It was the family that I had been living with. Through a chance conversation they discovered that their neighbors needed someone to watch their house for a month, right when I was getting into town. They had a guest bedroom for me and were willing to house all my stuff in their garage. And the icing on the cake? They were both artists and had converted part of their house into an art studio. God had handpicked a temporary home for me to finish four paintings I had promised a friend and He invited me into a deep experience of His provision. I am glad I accepted His offer to cross the bridge.
"Choices," 24"x30", Acrylic, February 2014
I like to write as well as paint. Often times the story behind a piece brings more life to the work. - Jessica Broich