Revelations on life, faith, and the courageous act of creating
I sat atop my hill, wide-eyed in wonder at the scene set before me: the sun sneaking low behind the hills, its goodbye flash dancing on puffy clouds of grey. Truly, it was a scene even Michelangelo could only hope to capture.
And then, I had two thoughts:
1) What if the God in us is what drives us to do our best creative work?
And what if all that icky stuff—the sadness; the madness; the exhaustion, and defeat—is from our humanness (and also, a bit, from the darker side at play)?
The ancient Greeks once believed “inspiration” came from the gods, but even the meaning of that word—“God-breathed”—points to the One above and with us.
Sure gives reason to toss all that junk in order to better connect with Him—and your work.
Even the best painters and photographers cannot capture the scenes before the human eye. God is the master creator; the skies and our lives, His canvas. How lucky we are to witness it, and to be able to make masterpieces of our own.
2) Facts do not disprove faith. Love, hope, faith, and truth: these things are above all.
I am no master theologian, and because of this, I often bite my tongue to speak my truth. But my life is my art, and I cannot deny all the God-breathed miracles that have happened to me, and to those I love around me.
Similarly, the beauty, the glory, of this sunset scene before me cannot be denied. How sad to solely rely on history without any sense of mystery. If you don’t believe in God or, therefore, an afterlife, what do you win if you’re right? An “aha” at the end of our lives? Science does not disprove a god; rather, it was mastered by and points to our God. But I’m not here to debate human origins; rather, faith and facts. The latter does not destroy the former, and yet so many laugh at faith-filled beings as being foolish and childish still. But I’d rather wander through life with wonder, than to hold onto man-made facts that always evolve.
It may seem foolish to not fall back on facts, if your facts point to a life without God. But I’d say it takes even more courage, faith, and wisdom to believe in something greater than ourselves, or in the limits of our finite human minds.
If facts give one the justification to feel “right”, then holding onto faith in a beautiful afterlife, and a day-to-day aligned toward an abundant life, is the better choice, to me. When Jesus tells us to approach Him with “faith like a child”, I wonder if this is what He’s referring to: to lay our weapons, our pride, aside; to accept something greater than the finite human wisdom presented as fact, for higher truth.
“Pride comes before the fall.”
I’d always thought it was a shoddy argument, to focus on the afterlife when we’re just trying to get through today. But it wasn’t until I truly understood a life with God is what fills our day-to-day that the walls of religion started to crumble, for something better: a relationship.
A relationship with a higher power may seem laughable to you; but then, all the most radical ideas are. Unlike the other “paths of life”, Jesus is the only one who didn’t call us to climb a ladder to earn enlightenment, or peace, or anything else; instead, he gave up everything to come give it—freedom; life; himself—to us.
The life of a Christian with Jesus as their Lord, not just their Savior, is this: it’s understanding that life is not perfect, but with the goodness of a good, good, God, even the hardest times aren’t marked by their darkness; they bear an unexplainable light.
I’ve faced hopelessness, a lifetime of illness, a confounding shift in a good career, the loss of loved ones, and a heart smashed to pieces time and time again. This year alone, I’ve been diagnosed, and rediagnosed with a mass threatening any future of having a family, and 13 months of job rejection despite a glimmering portfolio.
But you know what? I’m happier and more at peace today than I was at a “dream job” in LA.
And it’s not just me. I know of women stuck in prostitution; families staring down the barrel of guerrilla guns; a grown man driven to suicide from imprisonment in Iran, before God came to save him (Dan Baumann, below)—so many stories of people you wouldn’t think could carry on any further filled with courage to face each day, because of their faith.
Faith is not foolish. Faith is courage.
Truth tells me, doubt tells me, circumstances tell me, there is no good. But hope tells me, faith tells me, my God tells me there’s so much more worth hoping for.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:24-25)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 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 29:11-14)
It seems to me the two are as one: our faith and our works, or our art. The verse in James says that “faith without works is dead”. But I’d also pose an opposite, supporting point of view: that work without faith is still dead.
What good does it do the world if we, who’ve been called to give and create something higher, capture the world for what it is?
The true artist sees greater than what he’s given. Life is dark enough. Joy—this is what our art should aim to capture.
-Henri, An American in Paris on Broadway
Thus, faith takes courage, just as creating takes courage.
And faith; hope; believing in and creating things greater than what is seen: that’s the choice for me. It’s not about being “right”, nor about proving one’s religion (or lack thereof) wrong. It’s about the strength, and hope, to get through each day even better than I could alone.
Going through life being “right” does not equate to being happy (just ask any married person). But for me, I choose this life: a life that, no matter the circumstances, bursts with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And this is all thanks to a God who made us and loves us enough to walk with us through the lows and highs each day.
Hey there! I’m Cheryl Elizaga, but you can call me “Ché”. I’m living in the in-between but choosing joy each day. This post is part of my #100DaysofWriting Challenge, because words are my weapon but consistency, my Achilles’ heel. So join me on this bumpy ride; let’s laugh, let’s talk, and maybe cry… thank you for sticking with me.