14 In Faith

Sink or Swim: Becoming Living Art – Week 5

Becoming Living Art_Week 5I liken my life to that of Peter.  Hearing the voice of the Lord calling to me from the water, I rise up and with confidence and boldness I begin to walk toward Him.  But then the storm clouds come, and the fear of getting wet or drowning overwhelms me.

So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  (Matthew 14:29-30)

Like Peter, when the wind comes and threatens to throw me off course and take me under, I often become fearful.  And in that place of fear, I lose sight of the One who waits for me on the other side.  My vision becomes cloudy and my mind becomes filled with doubt.

In that moment, it’s either sink or swim.

We are all familiar with Psalm 46:10:  “Cease striving and know that I am God.” (NASB).  In the original context, cease is a verb that means sink.

Sink and know that I am God.

As I begin to wake up to the art that is alive within me, sinking seems counterintuitive.  No!  I’m supposed to float!  Isn’t that why we’ve been uncovering my passion and desire?  So I can succeed in life?  My flesh tells me I don’t want to sink.  I don’t even like getting my hair wet.  Fear and logic tell me I need to stay in the boat to make things happen, not step out into the water and risk drowning.  But my spirit knows that there is something sacred in the sinking, something I want to know more about.  – A Million Little Ways, pg. 78

When I take my eyes off of Jesus, I will most certainly drown.  But when I fix my eyes on Him, refusing to be swayed by the storm, the sinking has a different story.  It’s only then that we realize in and of ourselves, we cannot make art.

[Tweet “Alone, my art is empty and useless. But with God, my art brings healing, hope and life to others.”]

But I stumble and get caught up in my own way of doing things, allowing myself to drool over the achievements of others, thinking that I’d like to do that too, just like she did.  I can often hear that scared little girl inside of me crying out, “Look at my art!” “Do you see what I’ve just done?” “Look at what I’ve created!”  “Is it good enough?”

But whose opinion am I seeking?

At first you want to point to it and headline it and say, This!  This is what I was made for!  And you delight in the big-city experience of discovery and movement.  But soon, you begin to want appreciation and attention for your efforts, billboards to light up your plans, more time to work all hours of the night in the city that never sleeps. Before you realize what has happened, you’re looking at you more than looking at God and you start to sink into self-effort and expectation.  But being an image bearer is about reflecting God as a human, not about become a god myself. – A Million Little Ways, pg. 82.

It was never intentional, but I found myself walking in a place of self-effort and expectation.  I realized I had been riding on the coattails of those who have gone before me, hoping I would shine in their shadow.

Sinking into Smallness

But when you are walking down that path of self-effort and expectation and you meet God along the way, you sort of get knocked off your horse as you are hit with the reality of your own smallness.

We sink heavy into our own smallness and it’s in that place where we lose our life.  And also find it.  –  A Million Little Ways, pg. 83.

And this is where this chapter took my breath away:

There is a difference between embracing your smallness in the presence of Christ and feeling like a nobody in the presence of others. – A Million Little Ways, pg. 83

I have to stop comparing myself to others.
I have to stop waiting for permission to be qualified.
I have to stop seeing my art as having no value.

The reality is, I don’t have what it takes to make art.  Not without Him. And the only way to find Him in the chaos is to sink deeper into Him. 

The upside-down mystery of God is that you can still be a miracle gift even when you have no idea where your giftedness comes from, even when all you can bear to do is know you are loved and live like it’s true.  You are art, and you make art, but you are not your art.  You are God’s art.  – A Million Little Ways, pg. 84

So I take my desires, my passions and my art and I sink, deeper into His presence.  I will allow myself to be still, to wait, to listen and to know that He is God.

*photo credit

Artist brushes with a half finished painted color canvas

This is the fifth post in a series entitled Becoming Living Art. Each Monday I will share what God has revealed to my own heart while reading through Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways: Uncover The Art You Were Made To Live.  I was not paid in any way for my thoughts or quotes.  I would highly recommend you read the book.  It’s really good.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Chris Malkemes
    April 7, 2014 at 3:45 am

    This is why I write, Barbie. The me in His hand is the me I am meant to be. I wrote this this morning and will post it soon. You’re the first to read it. It’s called God’s Handiwork. Enjoy, my friend, and be blessed.

    He sees.
    He knows.
    He understands.

    He sees what is happening just under the surface of our life.
    Everything appears out of control, but the spinning is measured in His hand.
    It is contained for His purpose like the shaking together of a good recipe.

    He knows the beginning from the end.
    We see the chaos, but He knows the beauty.

    He understands the choices we make and takes notice.
    Our struggles are held in His hand.
    He does not let them destroy us, but uses them to make us stronger.
    One He holds back and another He allows for our own good.

    He untangles us like abused yarn.
    Then stretches each strand out to full measure.
    With gentleness He unties the knots.
    Then weaves the colors together creating His masterpiece.

    He sees what others pass by unnoticed.
    He values those who do right in eyes.
    He enjoys those who acknowledge Him.
    He appreciates those hidden in His hand.

    They cry, “Holy! Holy! Holy! Worthy is The Lamb!”

    Troubles flee in His presence.
    Anxiety fades away.
    He comforts – He comforts His own.

    The yielded heart knows the truth.
    It is a good thing to be in the hands of the Living God.

    He sees.
    He knows.
    He understands.
    Chris Malkemes recently posted..Why I Write

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 7, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      Chris, this is amazing! I can relate on so many levels. “He untangles us like abused yarn. Then stretches each strand out to full measure. With gentleness He unties the knots. Then weaves the colors together creating His masterpiece.” He is weaving our colors, my friend, creating a masterpiece in and through us. LOVE!

  • Reply
    Amy Jung
    April 7, 2014 at 6:33 am

    I love your thoughts on this book and I love this quote you shared:
    “There is a difference between embracing your smallness in the presence of Christ and feeling like a nobody in the presence of others.” – A Million Little Ways, pg. 83
    Thank you…
    Amy Jung recently posted..On Revisiting the Past

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 7, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      That one hit me hard! Thanks for stopping by Amy!

  • Reply
    Ashley
    April 7, 2014 at 6:50 am

    This morning I am so thankful I came here to get encouraged for the day. God bless you sweet friend.
    Ashley recently posted..The Race We Were Never Meant For

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      Praying you are finding rest in His presence! Hugs!

  • Reply
    Ginger Harrington
    April 7, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Such a timely post of encouragement. Barbie, this is beautifully written. Living art with words and heart mixed together. Today I received a rejection from an agent that it seemed God had opened to door for. I am encouraged that he complimented the writing, but the project just does not excite him. Though we know that rejection is part of publishing, it is still hard to see the answer before your eyes. When it is my flesh in control, I receive this hard and could easily say–you’re boring–no one wants to hear from you. But when I let God take it, I can rest, a little sad, but confident that
    it all begins and ends in Him and He can take this wherever and whenever He wants.

    “So I take my desires, my passions and my art and I sink, deeper into His presence. I will allow myself to be still, to wait, to listen and to know that He is God.”
    Thanks for being you.
    Ginger Harrington recently posted..It’s Time for the 2014 Ultimate Blog Party!

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 7, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Oh my brave friend, you encourage me. You see, I have not the strength or boldness to even consider pitching any of my work to an agent. Perhaps one day. But you are doing the scary thing, with God holding your hand and saying, “in my timing”. Your writing is beautiful and touches me deeply.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth@BeautyObserved
    April 8, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    I am enjoying your insight into this book. (It’s still on my shelf.)

    Your words are powerful:
    “I have to stop comparing myself to others.
    I have to stop waiting for permission to be qualified.
    I have to stop seeing my art as having no value.”

    I thought I was done with this comparing myself thing, but it seems to have reared its head recently. I even made a Pinterest board called “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” Off to pin this there.

    Thank you!
    Elizabeth@BeautyObserved recently posted..If You Give a Gardener a Sunny Day

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 9, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Oh man, I must check out your Pinterest board. It will be good therapy for me!

  • Reply
    Beth
    April 9, 2014 at 6:58 am

    This post speaks to me in so many ways, Barbie. You continue to be a source of encouragement to me and I’m just so very thankful to have you as a friend. Love you dearly.
    Btw…I’m returning to San Diego the end of July. Maybe we can figure out a way to connect. 🙂
    Beth recently posted..Three Word Wednesday: Faith ~ Life ~ Community {Guest Post}

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 9, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Oh San Diego at the end of July sounds fabulous. When you know dates let me know!

  • Reply
    Maria @ The Good Life
    April 9, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    This “The upside-down mystery of God is that you can still be a miracle gift even when you have no idea where your giftedness comes from.” This is so true and beautiful. And when I am feeling down or feel like I am not enough, I am reminded of this.
    Maria @ The Good Life recently posted..140 | MEMORIES | This Run Is For You Dad… From Your Little Girl

  • Reply
    Positively Alene
    April 9, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Oh my friend — this is just what my soul needed to read, absorb, and be encouraged by. I love your new series Becoming Living Art — beautiful!
    Positively Alene recently posted..when your purpose seems a blur.

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