A Life Spent Creating

“Art, really, is never about applause. It is about coming to an altar. Its about laying it down for God to choose what He does with it.” -- Ann Voskamp

From the time we are small, we are creative. We build architectural masterpieces with blocks and paint Starry Nights and Mona Lisa’s with our fingers. We’re born that way, with ingenuity and interest. We come into the world with the desire to study everything from the minute to the majestic, all things bright and beautiful. We grow up to affect culture. And this intrinsic curiosity is no accident. When the Godhead spoke of our existence, they said “let us make man in our image,” meaning that we were fashioned to take on the very form of the divine Creative.  This desire to make and craft and build dates back to the beginning of time, and its purpose is to draw us to the Source of our being.

In the beginning, our creativity was solely inspired by God. But the slithering, hissing serpent had something to say about that, and after the Fall, our entire motivation shifted from bringing glory to the Lord to bringing glory to ourselves. Satan knew that if he could succeed at controlling how we view ourselves, he would find a way to destroy everything.

Whether we choose to believe it about ourselves or not, our lives are still very much about art: a lover’s knowing glance, singing our babies to sleep, creating and presenting business proposals, excelling in sports, decorating a space, cooking the perfect eggplant parmesan.  Every moment of our lives, our very day to day, is art. Which means every moment is an opportunity to meet God, and bring Him glory.

Having grown up in church, I thought I was fairly familiar with the concept of altars. I had heard the stories, at least. In the Old Testament, the Israelites built altars on which to sacrifice the best of their livestock in order to atone for their sins. Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac, the son he had longed for, and at the last moment, the Lord provided a lamb to be bled out in his place. Elijah, proving to the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel that Yahweh was the one true God, and so on. Even if you have no experience with the church whatsoever, it is likely that you’ve at least heard of these stories. As such, they’re all well and good. But as my faith grew, I began to wonder how altars translated to my life, much removed from the times written about in scripture. How does this tower of stones, however metaphorical now, grow a faith and a relationship with Christ? Moreover, how can altar building be practiced in the middle of the seemingly mundane everyday?

I don’t have to tell you that life is often messy, chaotic, and sometimes painful. Surely, there are moments when we doubt if we have the strength to make it another day. But I believe that if we come to understand the altar, we can discover a life of peace and joy and gratitude and security.

For as long as I can remember, even before I realized what was happening, words have been my personal, primary way to meet with the Lord. Before I truly grasped that God could be encountered outside the four walls of a church, and that faith was far more expansive than what song or sermon could contain, I knew words. I journaled throughout middle and high school, and began blogging with intent in college. Words were my source of comfort in trying times, and I found that they were also a means of connecting with the people around me. And I've found that as my faith has deepened, so has my capacity for expression.

The primary definition of the altar has always been the place at which we encounter God. I pray that as you read these chapters, you would discover your own ground on which to meet with the Lord, and not only that you begin to see the art of your life, but that you fall in love with the Artist whose image you bear.

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