Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. ~MARK 1:35
Our Savior and God, Jesus Christ, did not just come to the world to save us from our sins, but He also came to give us life to the fullest, and in so doing, be our example for how to live our best life.
As our example, He shows us how to be in the ‘moment’ with others, to be available to their needs, to do our work in delight, but He also shows us when to pause…and to surrender our hearts to Him in quiet seclusion, just as He did with the Father.
Whenever our Savior did this, even with great multitudes at His heels, He was able to return to them empowered, enriched, and able to give of Himself.
Being Creatives, we often struggle with the idea of being still especially when we want to keep going. But we have to realize that ‘burnout’ is real and when there is no rest we forfeit the option of being our very best.
Remember to take the time in your schedule, in your doing, to rest, to pause and allow your mind and spirit to be renewed so that the Father can fill you with greatness for your next step and level.
If the God of all creation made time to be still, then we should joyously, and guiltlessly follow His loving lead!
Sometimes using your time well or wisely is really just a matter of being still.” ~Candice Coates via the Lord Jesus
I, by nature, am a woman given to hard work. I have an inherent urge and drive to be productive, to seize the moment and bear fruits from my labor. Being still, not producing, often leaves me with an anxious feeling that I have wasted my time, time that I will never get back.
The deception of that ideology is one that plagues many of us, I am sure; being still means you have wasted a moment.
Years ago, I was presented with the converse of that ideology. I learned that there can be great wisdom in resting…simply being still.
All too often we confuse stillness with the lack of productivity. We in the west have been conditioned to believe that if there is no movement then nothing has been done.
This is actually an enemy of faith. Faith, as the Bible puts it in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things NOT seen, the evidence of things hoped for.” Going a step further with faith, I am reminded of the beauty that comes from stillness especially in the face of my unfinished projects and art.
I have found that when I rest, when I am still and quiet, my creativity flourishes in a way that it does not when I am “trying to work” it out. In the hush of the still moments, the moments that logic says I should be moving, I find that the rivers of creativity flow, the sound of the stories play as music in my ears, and the colors of the art waiting to be made dance within my imagination with a clarity far more real than the world I live in.
I want so very much to produce without a break in the moment but these breaks, if treated right, if embraced with the full commitment of rest, produce such wonderful and delicious fruit.
It is in the stillness that I am able to take hold of the bouquet of roses without pricking my hands with the thorns of forced efforts…which ultimately equal wasted efforts. Wouldn’t you agree with me, that it is indeed a waste of time to force your efforts only to find that hours later you end up trashing everything you squeezed out of you? You end up far more stressed afterward when you do this.
Forcing the moment is akin to squeezing the blood from turnips.
Those years ago, as I sat on my bed, warm buttery sunlight pouring through my window and onto my face, I heard the voice of the Lord Jesus say, “Sometimes using your time well or wisely is really just a matter of being still.” And this is the truth.
Being still in body and even in the mind allows your creativity to speak without all the commotion. Clarity comes, the vision is brought into greater focus. Strength for the next steps is also given.
I still have to be reminded of this truth. I have to keep myself from straining to “hear,” but to simply allow myself to hear when the time comes.
I want so very much to produce without a break in the moment but these breaks, if treated right, if embraced with the full commitment of rest, produce such wonderful and delicious fruit.
When I look at William-Adolphe Bouquereau’s painting, “Rest at Harvest,” I see the truth yet again. The woman reclines with sublime peace at a time when she should be gathering in the grain.
Had she done the logical thing, she would have missed out on the joy she so clearly was filled with by simply being still and I would reckon (using my imagination here) that when she finally did go to gather the harvest she was much more efficient.
This is what I want to be. Actually, in writing this article and looking for the perfect image to express my words I was made to really take a deeper look at Bouguereau, and I have to say I have fallen in love.
My prayer is that in the seasons to come, I will continue to authentically produce works that are worth posting and worth your time reading. Do bear with me, as I do not want to rush them only to have to backtrack later.
I humbly thank you all, all of you who have journeyed with me thus far in Following this creative platform, those of you who have Liked the postings, and those of you who have participated in the writing prompts and have taken the time to leave feedback and comments. I can’t say thank you enough.
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind…The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man.”~ECCLESIASTES 1:14;12:13
The book of Ecclesiastes was inspired by the Living Spirit of God and written by not only the wisest man to ever live, besides our Savior, Jesus Christ, but the wealthiest man of all creation; King Solomon.
In his lifetime, he had tasted of every indulgence he could, wealth was in abundance, of women he did not lack. There was nothing under the sun that was denied him.
And yet, after running around the mountain of indulgence and want, whether of Godly pursuit or in the attempt to appease the longings of his own flesh and desires; he came to the simple and yet profound conclusion, that nothing, NOTHING else was of true value, all was as chasing the wind, except loving God.
The word “fear” used in the scripture in regard to the Holy God of creation, is not that of being afraid and cowering, but one of awe and reverence. To be totally stricken silent by the glorious wonder of the One you are beholding. At the end of it all, King Solomon had found his One thing. God was his one thing.
Some may be thinking, “Well, that’s all well and good for him, but I live in the real world and I have real problems and cares.” So did Solomon. Whether at your greatest height or your lowest low, there is nothing so sweet as the embrace of Christ Jesus but you can only experience that by giving Him permission to take you in His arms.
Christ Jesus longs to love you and be loved by you. He died for you as His greatest expression of His love because YOU are HIS ONE THING.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.~ ROMANS 5:8
I encourage you to listen to the song again, read the words and maybe even sing along. Allow yourself to be enraptured by the truth that you are His One thing and His desire is to be close to you. And allow Him to be your One thing, for in Him are all things and you will lack for no good thing! (Matthew 6:24-34)
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”~REVELATION 3:20
And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.…” ~MATTHEW 18:2-4
Often times in our lives, no matter our age, no matter our victories or triumphs, we find ourselves in a place of uncertainty. Forces in the atmosphere have a way of coming at us out of nowhere, with the sole design to catch us off guard and to knock us off our axis.
I thank Christ Jesus for His Word, that He instructs us to have child-like faith because as His child I have no need of shame when I come to Him for affirmation. A child, no matter their age, is always welcome into their Father’s arms. And it is in those instances when we lift our hands to Him and allow Him to draw us up into the safety of His arms that our courage renews.
We come to Him as children, rest in the gentleness of the Lamb, and are empowered by the Lion of Judah. For in our weakness HE is strong in Power. (II Corinthians 12:9)
I can’t tell you how beautiful it is to find courage through His peace. That is something that you have to experience all on your own.
Be encouraged, no matter what. The Great I AM is HERE and He loves you! If you feel troubled, if you have lost your peace, let Him be I AM.
…we went through fire and water, but you brought us out to abundance.” ~PSALM 66:12
Another translation of this portion of scripture says, “We went through the fire and through the water, but You brought us out to rich fulfillment.”
Here is what we as Creatives and People of Faith have to take note of:
THERE IS ‘PROCESS’ BEFORE ‘POSSESSION’.
Before we are able to take hold of and step into the new level that God has for us, we must be prepared for it. Who we are before the process is not who we will be on the other side of it when we take possession of what the Lord has promised and called us to.
Fire. Consider the occurrences of forest fires, not the ones that are caused by human negligence, but those that take place as a part of the circle of creation.
These fires are natural. They may cause great devastation, but, they bring greater enrichment to the ecosystem.
Water. Water, rain, are necessary for the nutrients to be able to get into the soil for the new abundance to spring forth from the newly enriched ground.
Sometimes it seems that we go from one trial straight into another. I will not say that this isn’t a difficult thing to endure, but we can endure it through and with Christ Jesus.
Now this is what the Lord says—the one who created you, Jacob, and the one who formed you, Israel—“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you…Because you are precious in my sight and honored, and I love you, I will give people in exchange for you and nations instead of your life. Do not fear, for I am with you…” ~ISAIAH 43:1-2,4-5a CSB
Because the Lord has loved us and has called and created us for a purpose, we can be assured, even as we go through our trials on the way to our possession that:
He will be with us
He will protect us from harm
He will bring us out into abundance
We do not have to be afraid
We are LOVED
Remember, gold without fire is never purified and faith that has not been tested cannot be trusted. Allow the faith within you to be enriched by the process of the fires, sated by the waters, and mature in trusting His word as you receive the abundance that is yours.
And they overcame him [the evil one] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony…” ~Revelation 12:11 *Bracets added
The scripture says we overcome by the word of our testimony. When it comes to being successful when it comes to victory, one of the greatest ways to secure this is to tell it, not only for the encouragement of others but to remind yourself when you begin to face other trials.
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. ~PSALM 37:4-5
Success and victory go hand and hand. Both are a mark of triumphing over an obstacle or challenge or in the case of this scripture the enemy of our very lives and souls, Satan.
Here is my testimony that I share as a seed of faith for you. In 2015 I was laden with change; change in calling, change in career path, change in vision, change in relationships. Every change brought me to a new level of faith and deeper love for Christ Jesus.
He has always been sweet and perfect, kind and faithful, but it was and is as I overcome and begin to trust His character more that I am able to see and relate to Him in this sweetness.
One of my biggest struggles is in dealing with provision. I have never really lacked for anything BUT I had trained myself to work for everything, leaving very little room for God to show Himself faithful in providing for me.
Even though I am confident of His love for me, I have struggled with the question of will He meet my daily needs.
I have grown much in this area.
Matthew 6:24-30 Jesus expresses His great love for us, instructing us not to worry about our daily needs but to seek first His Kingdom and its righteousness and all our daily needs will be met. He knows we have need of them, but it takes faith in Him, faith in His character to allow Him to prove Himself here.
And what is His Kingdom? As Romans 14:17 states, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Basically and gloriously, to seek His Kingdom is to continuously agree with His word that you are no longer a sinner but a new creation in Him, His Righteousness by faith and then taking hold of peace, and joy that is found in His Holy Spirit now indwelling you.
So in light of my changes in 2015 and beyond, I have started several new business ventures, one of them being transforming ICFTS into a platform that is more a community. The blessing is that as I take steps in faith (and even before I began) I heard and continue to hear Him say, “You’ll have everything you need.”
Hearing is one thing, believing and putting your faith in what you have heard is another. I decided to put my faith in what I heard and did not question Him.
Psalm 37:4-5 Also delight yourself in the LORD, and HE will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD. Trust also in Him…”
But as a test of my growing faith, while I was in the midst of getting a commissioned art piece finished, I reached for my trusty bottle of varnish only to find that it had dried into a lump!
This was not good being that the holidays were right around the corner and I had very limited time. Instead of accusing the Savior, I testified with MY WORDS, reminding myself through faith what HE had said, that I would have everything that I needed. (PSALM 103:20)
Later that day, cleaning up for the day of work and organizing some of my other tools, I came across a can of spray varnish that I had only used once!
I immediately did a happy dance, not because of the can, but because my faith had increased and I had abided in the faithfulness of His Word and received the fruit of faith!
I have learned to trust Him more. I am learning to rest and trust Him more with confidence because I am HIS righteousness and in this, I have joy and peace! I was victorious in my trial then and have been in many since then. I gained success! And the greatest success is found in walking with Him and holding to His hand!
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. 16 I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, 19 and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. ~EPHESIANS 3:14-21 CSB
Paul’s prayer for the Body of Christ to be rooted and grounded in the love our Savior has for us is so powerful. Many times we make light of, not only the Grace of God but His love. We tend to take the worldview of what love is, and what love truly means, and thusly, miss the glory and power that comes from love Himself.
Love is the very Person of God (I JOHN 4:7-8), not a fleeting feeling that comes and goes, for we know that Christ has assured us that He will never leave nor forsake us (HEBREWS 13:5) but will be with us for all eternity.
But even when we have accepted Christ into our hearts, there is still the process of His seeds of love not only taking root in us but growing to the point that we are filled with the very fullness of God.
Love, knowing that we are fully, completely, unapologetically, unrepentantly, unconditionally loved by Christ Jesus, is the root and cornerstone of our growth, power, and passion in Him.
It is through the knowledge of the depth of this love that we are able to live with confidence and courage, no matter our mistakes, stumbles, or fails. It is through this knowledge that we are able to do as our Lord commanded and love others.
When we know we are loved perfectly by Him, we rest in our identity of being His righteousness by faith, free from and forgiven of sin, past, present, and future. It is here that we grow into a posture where we are no longer sin-conscious, thusly we are able to shed the fear of punishment that pushes us into condemnation. (Romans 8:1, I JOHN 4:15-18)
Where there is no condemnation, there is freedom, freedom to grow, freedom to walk in liberty and freedom to liberate others with the Good News! (II Timothy 1:7)
Oh, what glory and depth of faith that comes from this place! It is here that we can pray with confidence expecting the “above and beyond what we could ask or imagine” from Him that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 3:20-21.
But to get to the truth of verses 20 and 21 we have got to be rooted in this incredible love that is spoken of in verses 14-19. It takes the knowledge of, and resting in, as well as trusting of His unwavering love for us to be able to believe that not only is His power working in us, that He is able to do exceeding and abundant great things, but that He will do these things for you because HE LOVES YOU!
Be rooted in His love. Trust that He has already given you His greatest gift which was Himself offered upon the cross, knowing that because He has given you His best, He most certainly will not withhold the rest (Romans 8:28-37).
Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” ~JOHN 11:40 CSB
Sometimes in life, many times in life, we find ourselves facing challenges and circumstances that cause us to grapple with our faith. Our confidence seems to wane and despite how many times we’ve heard the scripture say, ‘faint not,’ we find ourselves doing just that.
In John chapter 11, we find Jesus having a conversation with Martha, the sister of Lazarus. Lazarus has been dead for four days and even though Jesus had been informed of his sickness with the hopes that the Messiah would come and heal him, Jesus allowed His friend to die.
We do not have to guess how Mary and Martha felt about these events. They were distraught. They mourned. They were angry, and yet…they still had hope that the God of creation could do something.
You see, when they sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, they had hope and faith that He would show up, and like He had done for others, heal their brother. But He didn’t. He chose to let His friend die, and his sisters to stand in what seemed to be crumbling faith, steps that had been taken to no avail.
Have you ever felt like you stood in Mary and Martha’s shoes? I know I have. But I have also stood on the other side of the tomb watching the glory of God unfold as what I thought was dead and down for the count, rises with greater glory than I could have ever imagined. That seeming weed was actually a seed for greater wonder!
Friends, our faith and faith steps requires not only a trust in our God but a trust in His love for us, a trust that no matter what things look like, if we have followed His lead and have belief in Him, He will not fail us nor forsake us.
I don’t know what you may be facing today, but I want to encourage you to continue to believe in His love for you, that as He does ‘new things’ in your life, He is cultivating new faith in you as well, and with that new faith comes new and greater glory.
So take a breath and breathe in His love for you. Walk by your faith and not your sight. Continue to believe despite the odds and know that you will see His glory.
See, I am doing what is new, let it now spring forth. Do you not know it? I am even making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” ~Isaiah 43:19
Creativity always announces the birth of something new. Sometimes that birth takes place in things that are old, warn, dried out, but isn’t that were some of the greatest beauty rest? Isn’t it these places that we are able to see the miracles of God take place, and realize that we can be made into a miracle for others?
In Isaiah 43, the Lord speaks of how He is doing something new, causing rivers to flow in desert places. He is not just sending rain to saturate, but rivers to change the entire landscape and ecosystem.
In our lives, we will sometimes find ourselves in dry places, wandering in valleys of shadows, wondering if we made a mistake when we stepped out in faith to do that ‘thing’ we were once so certain about, but now were are not so sure.
Here is the truth that we often miss. Just because the Lord calls us out in faith does not mean that we are not going to face some craggy, hard places. In fact, it is in these places that our faith is most strengthened and our creativity finds its greatest development. It is in these places that were are able to see rivers springing up in desert places.
Wherever you are in your creative process continue to trust that the Lord is right there with you, and not only is He with you but trust that He has something ‘new’ waiting for you. He has a new you waiting to be born from the wells inside of you.
There may be an idea cultivating in the soil of your circumstances that you may not yet see. There may be a novel waiting to be written as a result of your struggle. There may be a word of encouragement glowing as an ember, waiting to be set ablaze at the right moment to change someone else’s life.
Something new is being born in you during this season. Keep allowing the Lord to lead you and give you the discernment to know it! Your rivers are coming.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. ~EPHESIANS 6:13
When we set out on our journey to take steps in faith, to accomplish something that is outside of our comfort zone, we are essentially waging war, not only with our own flesh and fears but with the enemy of our souls.
When we make the decision that, no matter what, no matter how long it takes, no matter the cost, no matter the odds, we will obtain the promise and manifest vision birthed inside of us, it is then that we are operating in audacious and tenacious faith.
Sometimes this faith requires quick forward moving, but often times, it requires committed standing, continuing to ’till the soil’ of our creative venture with faith that we will soon see a harvest.
It is no wonder that in our standing and waiting, we become targets of attack. This is why we are instructed to put on the full armor of God and stand firm.
What I love most about the armor of God is that even when we may not be so secure with our breastplate of righteousness, or we may be missing one of our shoes of gospel and truth, or any other necessary implement of our armor, as long as we have our shield of faith, we are able to quench every dart of attack sent by the enemy. (EPHESIANS 6:11-18 emphasis vs 16) Why? Because a shield covers our entire person. But more than this, a shield is like His wing, covering us and protecting us.
He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.” ~PSALM 91:4 CSB
We are blessed to be able to stand because of the love and faithfulness that our God and Savior, has for us. We are indeed secure in His love. And because He loves us, we are able to stand secure, knowing that He is working all things out for our good even as we stand.