As you can see, I’ve changed the look of the site. Don’t worry though, you’re still in the right place. At least I hope you are. I felt it was time, given all God has been doing recently, that I freshened things up a bit round here, hope you like it.
But I have to confess, I’m giving some serious thought to taking a sabbatical from the blog, possibly for a month until the end of the year. I’ve not made up my mind yet, and want to discuss it with a few people. I’m trying to write and developing my creative gifts, especially writing. I know that I am a creative person, I love to make new things. I like writing & talking about Jesus, church and discipleship. I love creating things which help people connect with God in a deeper way.
I’ve progressed in developing this gift and started to take it more seriously, but I realised that as was doing this I was trying to take control of this gift. I was trying to come up with ideas myself. I forgot briefly that all the times I’d written before, all the times I created the my best stuff, was when I was open to God inspiring me, and I wasn’t worried about being in control of it, because it didn’t matter so much.
Now it’s starting to matter a bit more, so on a subconscious level I took some control over it. Suddenly, and in hindsight, unsurprisingly, I suddenly developed writers block. The things I was writing were just rubbish and I was struggling for inspiration. I felt dead a little bit, it was like a part of me had gone.
Then I realised I needed to give it all back to God again. My writing and creativity, my blog, my book even, I need to give back to God and allow Him to minister and inspire me again. I need to surrender this back to God and allow Him to inspire me again and refresh and renew me.
I realised that God is the divine muse.
This applies to us all as well. Anyone who creates anything – and all of us have that ability inside of us – needs inspiration from somewhere. They need a muse.
Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ gave a TED talk recently where she talked about forces outside of us are the things that inspire us. She uses concepts and ideas like fairies and spirits, but of course as a Christian I believe what she is actually speaking of is the Spirit of God.
We show up, we develop our gift, we invest in ourselves and make ourselves as ready and well prepared as we can. But ultimately the inspiration for everything we create comes from something outside of us, it doesn’t belong to us, it isn’t ours. It’s divine, it’s from God, it’s Holy. God can choose to inspire us and create something through us, but it’s ultimately Him that creates it not us.
This is totally counter-cultural. In our culture it’s all about our gifts, our talents, our achievements. It’s accepted that you should get praise and credit for what you achieve or create – and have ‘worked hard to achieve’. This even infiltrates the church as well, we give praise to great preachers, authors and sometimes worship leaders. I remember as a youth leader I helped take a group to Soul Survivor once and Tim Hughes was leading worship. At the end of one of services all the teenage girls in our group – and many others – went up and asked for his autograph, and just by looking at them, and knowing that they were all very new Christians or not Christians at all in some cases, I knew they weren’t just there because they admired his gift and songwriting skills.
That’s what happens in our culture. It’s so easy to give this credit to the people who share these things with us – and to a degree we should respect and admire them for their faith, for their character and for what they have done. But we need to recognise that the reason that people like this are doing these things is not just because God has gifted and called them, but because of their willingness to submit to Him, to allow Him to speak to them and willingness to act in obedience to His call and inspiration. People like this recognise that God is the divine muse, He is the one who gives us these gifts, who gives us the inspiration for what we create. They recognise that ultimately it’s all about Him and all for Him and it’s all because of Him. And they probably struggle with humility, they probably struggle at times to remember it’s all about Him, but ultimately God is the first in their heart, and God will always be able to bring them back.
It’s not just well-known people who can do this.
We can all do this.
God wants us to recognise that anything new we bring into the world, whatever it is, anything that brings heaven to earth in some way, any gift or talent we have, comes ultimately from Him, and that it’s only when we’re totally surrendered to Him that He’ll be able to use it in the way it was intended to be used, and be used most effectively.
We shouldn’t believe the lie either that God can only use or inspire us if we have it all together. That God can only use us if we have it all sorted, if we believe the right thing, do the right thing, say the right thing and never screw up. That God can only use us if we don’t have any doubts, insecurities or fears.
What a total lie.
Again, it’s a lie that perpetuates through our culture, that it’s only when you have it all sorted that you can be blessed. It’s only when you get things all right that you get success, reward and achievement. Again, it can be common in church as well. There is a theology that says God only blesses you when you have it all together and have it right.
That isn’t a theology of grace. That’s a God of conditional love, and that’s not the God of the Bible.
God gives graciously and unconditionally. Sometimes we think unfairly as well. We don’t understand why some people get blessings and we don’t, we get annoyed. I know at times there has been a hint of jealousy inside of me at people who’ve got blessings I desire, and my instinctive reaction was ‘I deserve it more than them’.
And that’s just wrong. It’s not how God works. Rob Bell once said ‘Grace isn’t fair’, and it isn’t. That’s why it’s grace and because it’s grace. Grace is one of the toughest concepts for us to embrace, because it goes against the fundamental nature of our world and what we’re brought up to believe.
You see, God wants to give generously. He wants to bless us. In fact, we’re already blessed. But if we try to claim it for ourselves, if we start to think it’s all to do with us, it belongs to us, it’s about us or something we’ve done, then we’re forgetting where we came from. We’ve got it wrong.
The truth is, God can give gifts and blessings to who He wants, He creates new things through who He wants. It’s Him that inspires us and gives us vision, passion and talent. What He asks of us is that we turn up, we submit to Him, we recognise that it’s all about Him, we open our hearts to Him and put Him first. He asks that we do what we can do – work hard developing our gifts, honing our skills, investing time in these things, and that we allow Him the space to inspire and to create in and through us, because if we do that there’s no limit to what can happen – because God is the God of creativity, and there’s nothing beyond Him.
Ever said or done something, or created something, and afterward you thought ‘Where did that come from?’ ‘I had no idea how I did that’ ‘I don’t remember where I got that from’? Sometimes we call these thing ‘flashes of inspiration’, other times in other contexts they can be called ‘words from God’, ‘words of knowledge’.
But it made sense. It was right. It was true. It spoke to that person in that moment, it changed everything. And you realise afterward there was something divine about that moment, something outside of us.
That’s God speaking something into our lives, creating something new in us. Usually they happen when we least expect it, in the moments when we’re not really thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are almost empty, almost ‘out of nowhere’.
You might say, the moments when there’s the most space for God to inspire us.
If we want real relationship with God and to be in tune with what He wants for our lives, we need to create that space in our lives, in our minds and in our hearts. We need to allow Him space to inspire and create, and trust and recognise that God will fill that hole with good things, things that maybe we didn’t even realise could come out of us.
Empty ourselves and allow God to fill that space.
Allow God to be our divine muse.