In college I took a creativity class (it was for my major, but also fun!), in it, one project was to develop a mind map answering a question of our choice. In case you aren’t familiar, mind maps are a brainstorming technique in which you aim to solve a problem; Google image it (sorry Karla…) to see examples if you so choose. Anyway, my question was “what is beauty?” as it was something I questioned at the time. I received a B on mine because the professor said she “didn’t understand how my mind worked.” I think she just did not agree as she was an avid atheist and the beauty of Christ was very clearly portrayed throughout my map. I digress…
This question is plaguing me again, yet in a slightly different manner. As you may have gathered, I have a deep love for all things artistic; be it art, music, literature, architecture, etc. Lately, through a combination of different things, I have been struck by God’s hand throughout all things deemed beautiful. The depth of the word alone wraps up his love, grace, creativity, compassion, justice, holiness, etc., etc. so much so that my finite mind cannot fully digest.
I have been journaling through God’s character among other things (in which I’m having a bit more trouble with…another story). The depth of which builds in layers like an onion; each unpeels to another, releasing the sweet aroma of his overwhelming beauty. Additionally, a continuous companion to my journaling are two songs, coincidentally both titled “Beautiful” that also capture the profundity of God’s beauty. One by Phil Wickham and the other Shawn McDonald (if you’re interest, I recommend Phil’s free downloadable “Singalong” album and Shawn’s version on “Live in Seattle”).
As I journal, I feel stuck. I want to pound his truths into my heart and mind, but they escape too easily once I set my Bible down. I’ve been praying and moving through a slew of struggles for what seems the past umpteen zillion years (realistically more like 10-15) and even now when I have tools such as community, CR, etc, I feel as though I’m grasping at straws.
A few weeks ago Jen and I had lunch with Mel. Through that time, when I mentioned loving books, she flippantly said if I need to, I should get rid of them all to remove distractions. The notion has rolled around in the back of my mind since then, though I thought it was a tad extreme and figured she said it for emphasis (seriously, I should know better :)). Last night at CR, though, I realized God was not being extreme.
The speaker’s testimony was very powerful to me, with some similarities to my story. Toward the end, she discussed craving God above all else after feeling lead and reading the Bible cover-to-cover. She now better sees his character as the ultimate satisfier and lover of her soul. At that moment, the Spirit nagged my heart in that unignorable way. Though I’m not getting rid of them, I feel very strongly I should obey and read only the Bible for an undefined period of time (with the exception of books for small/community group). I tried to rationalize it in my mind last night considering I’m in the middle of a book, but know his Word will bring much more depth than Jodi Picoult. So, I give this time to God; be it a month, six, a year, or more, I am committing to reading through it all and anticipate the discoveries and freedom he will ultimately deliver.
Really quickly before I close (thanks for bearing with me this long!), please know I feel Spirit-led in this decision. Being one who struggles deeply with comparison, unworthiness, and fearing rejection, I only share this decision with you as a means to be transparent and point to strides God continues to make in my life, not to stir any negative feelings in others. And I’m sure I’ll have many stories to share along the journey, so get excited!