God Reveals Himself in the Details

We stared at the wall of athletic shoes, my husband and I standing beside my son while he made the decision.  He usually knows what he wants before we enter the store.  He’s researched the brands, styles, colors.  Behavior he learned from watching his Dad.

While he is well informed, the choice is often more about inspiration. This time he chose lime green and black. The design is unlike most of the others.  They are a piece of art.

This kind of inspiration flows over into other aspects of our lives as well. My kids notice the details. In the architecture and design of buildings in new cities we visit, the use of color, light, art; it inspires their imagination.  Conversation grows, their eyes widen, the creativity feeds them.

They begin to imagine, their perspective broadens, a taste that whets the appetite for more.  The exposure provokes them to dream big, look beyond their daily circumstances.

It happens for me too when we travel but when I can’t go somewhere new, I get that same kind of appetite when I read books, watch movies, look at a magazine, hear a song.  And I am a lover of the printed page. Have ongoing stacks of books, articles, magazines profuse all around my house and in my car.

Rigidity is Uninspiring

A Christian friend once asked me why I read (secular) books.  My immediate answer is that they inspire me as a writer, to be better.  Ultimately, my answer to that question is best summed up in the words of Madeline L’Engle:  To be truly Christian means to see Christ everywhere, to know him as all in all.

She goes on to say, “Christ has always worked in ways that seem peculiar . . . . So we need not feel that we have to understand how he works through artists who do not consciously recognize him.  Neither should our lack of understanding cause us to assume that he cannot be present in their work.”

There was a season, a long season of many years, that I only read books that had a Christian theme.  Then somewhere along my journey, I realized how small-minded I was and God opened a whole world of literature that I didn’t even know existed.  And he began to speak to me in ways that I hadn’t experienced before; like walking through the closet into Narnia.

We live by revelation, as Christians, as artists, which means that we must be careful never to get set into rigid molds.  The minute we begin to think we know all the answers, we forget the questions, and we become smug like the Pharisee who listed all his considerable virtues, and thanked God that he was not like other men.”

We Choose How We See

I love this quote by Madeline because it reveals the rigidity of my own heart and the ugliness it displays to others.  And it is true in my experience, the more humble I am, the more questions I have: the broader my horizons become, the more surprises await.  God loves to surprise us with grace.

I believe it is possible to see evidence of the incarnation no matter if the artist calls himself a Christian.  When we do, we walk barefoot – or sometimes in lime green running shoes – on holy ground.

There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.”

All quotes by Madeline L’Engle come from her fabulous book, Walking on Water.