Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Grace and Peace

Recently I mentioned our Pastor has been speaking on God's laws for prosperity and keeping Him first. Well, last Sunday our lesson was taught by a man who has recently come to the realization that he has the gift of pastor teacher and will be going up for ordination next year. He continued on the theme of God's Laws for Prosperity, and one thing that stuck in my mind is that His laws are unlike the way we've always done things. We fixate, for example, on the need for money, for supporting our family, for working hard because it's "right," for success, for material things, all at the expense of time with the Lord or fulfilling His calling on our lives.

Yet the Bible says we have to put Him first. He has promised to provide for the family. Food, shelter and clothing are guaranteed to the believer who is living and advancing in God's plan for his life. If we are to live in that truth, we have to change the way we do things. We have to do things, handle our finances and our lives in ways we've never done it before.

So as I was reflecting on writing and also on my new hobby of making hand-stamped greeting cards, it occurred to me that as a Royal Ambassador, part of my calling is to bring beauty and blessing into other's lives. That's what art does. And yet for a long time I've believed that to do something like that for pleasure -- others' pleasure and my own -- is not enough.

I think this is definitely something that is put forth by the world's system of thinking, and one that many hold, or at least behave as if they hold, whether they claim it as a belief or not. You can't just make a card and send it to someone and through it give them only a moment's worth of pleasure. You can't just write a book and have someone enjoy several days worth of pleasure from it. No. That's not enough. The world system (at least part of it) says that you must acquire money or fame or approbation. You have to 'impact' lots of people. Not just twenty or ten or one. It has to be in the hundreds of thousands or you are viewed as a failure, by others and perhaps by yourself as well. Your books have to stay around for decades. Centuries even, not go out of print in five years.

This is a viewpoint I have held to for a long time. One the Lord has slowly been clearing out, a piece at a time. I think that's why I like the cards.

Before when I painted watercolors, I felt they had to be saved. They had to be matted, framed, displayed in a gallery and sold. They should be exhibited in shows. But cards, just make them, as pieces of art, and you send them to someone, and the someone enjoys them and if they think no more of it than that, if they throw it away, it will have done its work. I like that. There's a great freedom in it. And I especially like it because it reminds me that everything we do in this life on earth is temporary. No work will ever last save that which was done on the cross.

I actually felt guilty for awhile over the time I was spending on something so ephemeral. It tended to translate over to the book as well, where I've always struggled with doubts as to the worth of what I'm doing (something I think a lot of writers struggle with). But it was in stopping to examine that guilt that I realized why I was feeling it, and that it was wrong. Card-making is something artistic, fun and wordless that I can do to rest from writing. It's something that is for others, even if on a very small scale. But as I said yesterday, little things are important. Life is made up of small things.

And happiness is not to be found in achievement nor acquisition of riches and materialism, but in knowing God, as a Father and as an intimate friend. Keep Him first and He gives to His beloved even in his (her) sleep. (Ps 127:2) Keep Him first and goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life. Blessed -- happy -- is the one who keeps Him -- his commands... His word -- first.

Grace and peace,