I really love the word invite. That’s what Jesus does.
After church today we held our once-a-month gathering for VineArts leaders and their families. We all enjoyed a spaghetti lunch, then I took the studio floor and gave a couple of invitations.
First I invited the Holy Spirit to manifest His goodness, truth, and imagination in us.
Then I invited everyone to become like a little child before our great and loving Father. I asked The Lord to give each person a picture of what it means to love God and each other through art.
Scattered around the room were various crayons, markers, paper, paint tubes, small canvas, pastels, collaging material, and anything else they wanted to use.
I found an unlikely remnant of cold-press Arches watercolor paper mistakenly stored among lesser papers. I gave this treasure to Ruth with joy, knowing it was from God.
As gentle music played, we prayed, doodled, then boldly entered into artmaking with relaxed and focused purpose. My own hands drew a Converse shoe straight from a paint bottle. I used only tertiary colors, savoring the craziness of hues that are not-quite-one color and not-quite-another. The atmosphere in the studio was contemplative yet serene. Fifteen artists dove into the materials before us at the feet of our broadly grinning Father.
Seeing everyone safely in “the zone,” I read aloud from the introduction of my friend’s book Imagine That by Manuel Luz. Manuel tells the story of God creating the universe and then watching proudly like any parent would as His creatures became creators in the world. Manuel reminds us that God truly likes the things we make, flawed and sincere as our work is. Because we are His kids.
Toward the end of our artmaking, I mentioned we’d have time to share after reading through Romans 12. Then I read Paul’s letter about using our gifts for God and how to be the body of Christ without falling into pride or envy as we create alongside others.
Finally we gathered at the couches to share what God had shown us. One by one, people were surprised to see a theme developing in what God had shown us: Giving, freely giving, our gifts as we have freely received them. A child’s hand reaching through water to grab a fistful of pennies. A coin found in the countryside to be able to attend a dance. A hand extended holding the love of Christ, the light of the world. A girl on a grassy, flower-covered hill, blowing bubbles and watching them float away. A majestic kingfisher bird catching fish to give life rather than consume. A poem on giving, on creating for the sake of creating, and then out tumbled Travis’s real wordplay — oh, the antics of his topsy-turvy wording!
The watercolor of the girl on the grassy, flower-covered hill was Ruth’s. It was her very first painting. Through tears she presented it to me, saying this is her gift to me because painting today was my gift to her. It is beautiful.
Driving home today, I sensed God’s Spirit resounding in me, saying: Suffer the little children to come unto me. In other words, do not stand in the way between an artist and her loving Father. I have more to say about this topic. But for today, I rest rejoicing in how much God obviously loves his kids. My painting from Ruth rests on a shelf in my living room.
And you know what, my friend Manuel?
I think all of our pictures are hanging on God’s refrigerator tonight!