Seasons of Creativity…

     In the beginning God created…These are the first five words recorded in the Bible.

     A few verses later in the biblical story of creation, we read: …in the image of God He created…male and female…[1]

     An artist friend once said, “We were created to create.” Since scripture shows the ingenuity and mastery of God’s creation, and since male and female were created in God’s own image, I expect my friend is correct.

     God’s creativity is showcased whenever a person exhibits innovation, imagination or inventiveness. When we use our creativity intentionally to honor the One in whose image we were made, I imagine God feels great pleasure.

     Lately, I’ve been contemplating ways in which creativity, like our life journeys, have seasons.

     Fiddler on the Roof is my favorite drama, and for me, the best part is when Tevye and Golde sing Sunrise, Sunset at their daughter’s wedding.

     Sunrise, sunset…one season following another.

     Surely, each of us who is a parent can relate. We understand the rapidly-changing seasons of parenthood. In a blink, it seems, we go from days and nights filled with the demands of a wee one to assuring our now-adult child, who recently became a parent, “It’s just a season! Cherish each moment. They pass so quickly!”

     I ask God often for ‘the gift of ideas’ for myself and others. The ingenuity of a creative God sparks imagination even while we:

  • make educational or career choices.
  • navigate each new phase of parenting.
  • find meaning in the daily grind of the mundane.
  • keep a spark of intimacy alive in our marriage, whatever the season.
  • forge new and nurture existing friendships.
  • tap into hidden gifts, talents and desires when demands of career and/or parenting slow down.
  • struggle with limitations and losses.
  • leave a lasting, lovely legacy.

     On January 1st, I began writing a devotional book, something I’ve been thinking about for several years. Now feels like the right season. This endeavor will be lots of work and is filled with scary unknowns. Before launching into it, I examined my motivation.

     Is my greatest desire to honor God? I believe it is. I’m praying my soul will be ignited with fresh inspiration so words I write will point readers toward a God who loves us with no strings attached and desires our good in every season.

     My husband recently entered full-time-retirement status. During his season of transition, I’ve admired Ron’s commitment to lean into his artistic nature as well as deepen friendships. I’m excited to see how God will pump fresh creative juices into Ron, which I’m certain will be evident in woodworking, photography and meaningful relationships.

     Through what life season are you traveling?

     How can you be intentional about tapping into God’s creative image to help you maximize this season?

     I’m praying for you as you consider these questions.

     Blessings as you explore your current season of creative…

Sue Reeve

My friend, ‘Mary,’ raised a family and taught school for many years. Now, a grandma and retiree, ‘Mary’ is tapping into artistic creativity, painting enchanting watercolors. I loved the hand-painted card she sent this past Christmas. Oh, the stories I imagine were created behind that blue door!

  1. Read the creation account in Genesis 1

Jesus in Me…How Can that Be?

Photo by Ron Reeve – Virginia Beach, VA at Sunrise

     Ann Voskamp, a woman with a marvelous gift for painting word pictures, said in a recent blog, ….

the glory of God tabernacled in the skin of Jesus.
And the grace and truth of Jesus
now tabernacles in you.[1]

     Her words reminded me of a conversation I once had with a fellow Christian. I questioned a specific sociological view common among many Christians, commenting it didn’t seem to fit with the teaching of Jesus. The woman retorted dismissively, “Well, we’re not Jesus!”

     That conversation led me on a journey of spiritual discovery during which I sought to reconcile the meaning of the Apostle Paul’s statement to his friends in Galatia,

“ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

     What did Paul mean? Were his words relevant to me in the 21st Century? Oftentimes, I prayed, God, I believe this is truth, but what do these words look like in practicality for me?

     I am grateful for my faith tradition. Early years in Sunday School, learning Bible stories, memorizing scripture verses and attending lots of church services and extracurricular religious activities laid a firm foundation upon which my faith continues to grow.

     I observed deep love for God. Much of the teaching, however, came from a legalistic, harsh perspective. Sometimes I questioned whether the true heart of God was exhibited. Frequently frustrated, I sought to connect spiritual teaching with actions that didn’t seem congruent with Jesus’ character.

     Doctrine and dogma may keep a person on the ‘straight and narrow,’ but will not transform an individual’s heart.

     Transformation is a process of becoming aware of and turning away from my self-centered nature and turning toward the nature of Jesus, who in fact, lives within me. I love The Message paraphrase of Paul’s words from Galatians 2:20.

…I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

     I no longer spend much time trying to figure out other Christian’s motives and behaviors. Keeping tabs on my own heart seems a full-time endeavor! The more I realize the very Spirit of the Jesus I’ve loved since childhood lives in me, the more I want to mimic him and encourage others to do likewise.

     If each of us listened with our heart to what the Spirit within was saying, I can only imagine the force for good we would be in our wounded, fractured world.

I’m praying for us as we consider this thought…

Sue Reeve

  1. annvoskamp@aholyexperience.com, 1/30/2019

Becoming “A Little Christ…”

     I agree wholeheartedly with this quote from Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

     But, what’s a “little Christ?” It’s a question with which I wrestle.

     I’ve concluded it’s that person who desires to emulate the character of Jesus. Kind of like the little boy or girl who mimics his or her daddy’s or mommy’s mannerisms. Our discovery guide will in great part be the four Gospels, which documents how Jesus spent his time and related to others during three short years of earthly ministry.

     A couple posts back, I told you about my A – B – C’s of Repentance.

     A is Awareness. I cannot change that of which I’m not even aware.

     B is Buy-In. Someone can tell me what I “should” do to be Christlike. They may be sincere, even accurate. While it’s wise to listen to the counsel of others, until I feel convinced in my spirit, change directed by others may result in behavior modification rather than soul transformation.

     C is Commitment to Change, perhaps even courage to change, since following examples of Jesus can indeed feel daunting, and most assuredly, counter culture.

     Several years ago, during my early-morning devotional time, seemingly out of the blue, a little song I hadn’t heard for many years came forcefully to mind.

To Be Like Jesus[1]

To be like Jesus;
To be like Jesus;
All I want is to be like Him.
All through life’s journey,
From earth to Glory;
All I want is to be like Him.

     Imagination is one way in which Awareness may occur, and those simple words grabbed hold of my imagination that morning.

     To be like Jesus—now, what would that look like in my life. After a few minutes pondering, the characteristic of Jesus I landed on was graciousness. Several stories illustrating gracious actions surfaced.

     My Buy-in occurred in the form of a prayer: Lord, help me show the graciousness of Jesus today.

     A few hours later, I found a letter in the mailbox. I didn’t recognize the name in the return address, but since it was clearly addressed to me, I opened it immediately. The letter was a scathing rebuke from a woman who’d attended an event I’d coordinated. Clearly unhappy with something that occurred, this woman spewed several sentences of vicious insults.

     Wow! I don’t usually get such a quick answer to my prayers!

     I’d reached a decision crossroad, and knew it was up to me to make a Commitment to Change.

     Would I react to this woman’s criticism in my typical, defensive way? or

Would I respond with the graciousness of Jesus?

     As I considered the situation, one of my first thoughts was the way Jesus looked beyond a behavior into a person’s soul. Instead of condemnation, Jesus responded frequently with compassion.

     I felt convinced Jesus wanted me to practice graciousness with this woman in the same way. I committed to do just that and felt sincere compassion for the pain that drove her pen to write such nasty words. I was able to pray for this stranger who had disparaged me—not through clenched teeth—but with a kind heart.

     I wrote a return letter, apologizing where that seemed appropriate and offering to make possible amends. I avoided excuses, blaming or sarcasm, choosing instead gentle words.

     I never heard back from her and can only hope the woman felt the love of Jesus motivating my response.

     I hope my example today will encourage you as together we grapple with the concept of becoming, as C. S. Lewis says, “a little Christ.” If each of us made one small turn away from our usual self-motivated behavior and one small turn toward Christlike action, I can only imagine the power those ‘turnings’ might bring.

Blessings on your journey…

Sue Reeve

  1. To listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-nj1XJ4TbM