Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’s creativity’

Right now, our church’s annual Art Installation is open for anyone to come and view. There are all sorts of creative works on display, including painting, sculpture, photography, writing, drawing, hand-made jewellery, tapestries, knitting. And this year, these all highlight in some way the theme ‘What matters to God’. It is open from Sunday 4th October to Sunday 18th October from 7pm-9pm each evening and from 10am-12noon each morning (except for Tuesdays and Thursday mornings) in the basement of Parramatta Baptist Church, 84-94 Kleins Rd, Northmead, Sydney.

This year, I found the Art Installation particularly challenging and moving as I walked around. Some paintings and other creative works powerfully speak of how much those on the fringes of society—the refugee, the prisoner, the poor—all matter to God. Others highlight how every part of creation matters to God, even the smallest creature or tiniest flower, and challenge us to think about how we care for this planet that God has taken such care in creating. There is even a dress on display made of recycled materials and an apron made entirely of plastic bags shrunk via ironing and fused together!

Then there are those creative works that reflect on how much each one of us matters to God—so much so that Jesus Christ gave his life for us to bring us back into relationship with God and to know the joy of being part of God’s family. As a writer, I decided to focus on this theme and, in particular, on that moment in my life as a teenager when it dawned on me that I actually did matter to God—that God knew me and loved me and had a purpose for my being here on this earth. This is what I wrote:

WE MATTER

I sit amazed at what I am hearing. The speaker’s face shines with an inner light and his words stir my heart.

‘You matter to God! … God loves you. … God knows you. … God is calling you tonight.’

Could this be true?

Could that holy, almighty, distant God I had heard about in earlier years know me and love me, an insignificant fifteen-year-old?

Do my life and my future indeed matter to God?

I cannot resist that deep pull inside to reach out and receive. I quickly make my way towards the front of the room, towards that new life, that fresh start, that forgiveness God is offering me with such tenderness and grace.

As I pray, I know now I am a child of God, part of God’s own family.

I belong.

I am known.

I am loved.

I matter to God … we all matter to God.

__________________________

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  1 John 3:1

How privileged we are to know that we matter to God! May we use that privilege wisely and well in the time we have on this earth to share that same love God has shown us with others. And may we care well too for all of God’s creation—people, animals, plants and all the wonderful, God-given resources in our world—because all of it matters to God.

Read Full Post »

We have just returned from a road trip to Queensland, our home state. We have driven there many, many times over the years since moving south, sometimes travelling the inland route, sometimes the coast road and sometimes a combination of the two. Each time, we seem to discover some new vista along the way, as well as enjoy familiar ones we love. And this time was no exception. On top of that, an added bonus was a guided tour around the beautiful beaches of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, courtesy of some good friends. I was refreshed in spirit by it all, despite our busy schedule. And I think that’s because I saw again two key things about God that still blow my mind.

Firstly, God is amazingly, amazingly creative. Who could possibly stand looking out over those beautiful beaches and not be in awe of a God who has created something so vast as our blue ocean and so breathtaking as those shimmering expanses of sandy foreshore? Who could not marvel at the variety in nature to be seen at every twist and turn of the road? As I observed all this beauty, it occurred to me again that, as God’s children created in his image, we have something of that very same creativity within us. It is God-given—so any creativity I might display in my writing is not something I have produced all by myself. As a result, I need to be so thankful for the creative gifts I have and handle them with great care and humility. God is the Creator par excellence—and, by God’s grace, I have the privilege of reflecting just a teensy bit of God’s creative heart to the world.

Secondly, God is amazingly, amazingly faithful. On our way up and back this time, we drove through a particular spot just west of Byron Bay in the Northern Rivers area that holds special significance for me. From this spot, high on the crest of a hill, there is a breathtaking view of the whole hinterland area, with its green paddocks and rich soil, as it rolls on towards the beautiful coastline and the blue ocean beyond. Almost fifteen years ago, having completed my theology degree, I stopped at this very spot on my way up to Brisbane. I could not have done otherwise. I was simply overcome with the goodness of God in enabling me to complete my studies at that stage of my life. It had been a hard road, but God was there for me all the way along.

But now as I gazed at that same scene in 2012, I realised how utterly faithful God has continued to be to me. In those intervening fifteen years, I completed a very fulfilling ministry in a local church. God then called me out of that ministry into another one—that of writing and speaking. Now I have five published novels and one work of non-fiction—plus another novel due for release next year. I have also spoken many, many times in a great variety of places. And I know all this has come from the hand of my gracious, faithful and loving God.

So right now, as I look to the launch of my sixth book this week, I am so humbled and grateful. We have such a beautiful country. But we have such an incredibly beautiful, bountiful God.

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits … Psalm 103:1-2

Read Full Post »

I wonder if you can think of a time when you almost held your breath because God seemed so close to you, perhaps even almost tangible. Back in the seventh century or thereabouts, the Celtic Christians in Britain and Ireland had a phrase for such a moment. They termed it the ‘thin place’ – a place or instance when that separation between heaven and earth or God and human beings seemed almost to disappear and the two blended together in perfect harmony.

Does your heart long for such places and experiences? I know mine does. They can happen in all sorts of ways, I’ve discovered – sometimes when we least expect them. Just yesterday, when I had the house to myself, I decided to sit down at our piano and play some of the old, classical pieces I used to enjoy many years ago. I am very much out of practice, but now I was just playing, letting the music flow as best I could and enjoying the beautiful melodies and harmonies of Brahms and Beethoven and Mozart. Memories came flooding back, but along with them was a distinct sense of the presence of God. It was as if God’s heart was reaching out to me through those notes and speaking straight into my spirit. It was as if God’s own immeasurable creativity was inspiring me through the creative works of others, as I cooperated by bringing my own creative ability to the moment through my playing.

Perhaps you have experienced such moments of closeness with God as you have gazed in awe at a beautiful coastline scene or mountain vista or observed God’s creativity at work in the exquisite, intricate design of a tiny flower. Or maybe it has happened in the midst of a time of worship or prayer, as you have gathered together with other believers, or alone as you have put time aside to read Scripture and reflect. Perhaps you have even sensed God close by right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a busy street or a noisy crowd. And maybe you who are authors out there will be familiar with God’s comforting, encouraging presence as you attempt to write words that will minister to others in some way. But in all these situations, we need to have our ears attuned to that still, small voice of the Spirit and our eyes focused not only on what we see before us but beyond that on our ever-present God.

You know, it seems such a shame that we so often miss out on these wonderful, life-giving encounters with the reality of God that go far beyond anything this world can provide. Of course God has called us to make a difference for the Kingdom right here and now, but that’s not all there is. Because God’s Spirit lives in those of us who believe, we will never be fully at home here—along with those great men and women of faith listed in Hebrews 11, we will always be ‘aliens and strangers on earth’ (11:13). So we need to find those thin places for our own wellbeing and spiritual survival. And God is there, ever willing to meet with us, when we take the time to look.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:13-14)

This week, may you all experience God in your own thin place and be truly nourished and refreshed in the process.

Read Full Post »