8.19.2014

Soli Deo Gloria

Some days brush strokes are sloppy, colors don't want to cooperate, and I just can't quite nail down what is wrong with a composition.  Some days I can think of nothing at all to paint or draw or sew, and some days (far too many) I find myself enamored with someone else's work, and can't keep myself from holding my own up next to it, only to find mine wanting.  Some days there is more frustration and self-pity and apathy in the design process than joy.

On those days, I find myself asking why I paint or draw or photograph or create.  And there are many reasons, some of them worthy reasons, even.  For pleasure, to bring others joy, to donate time or gifts or money to a good cause, to share my interests with my children...  But there is just one right  reason.  I create because I was designed to do so.  My God is a creator, and I was made to reflect His character and His glory.  I was made to glorify Him.  Everything I have -- time, talent, even the desire to create -- comes from Him and should be used to give Him glory.  
But so often my sinful, twisted heart seeks my glory above all else.  So often I delight in what I've made, and take pride in the skill that was required to create it.  I delight in knowing I have drawn or arranged or formed something, not because it shows how beautiful and creative my God is, but because I  made it.  So often I lose sight of how minuscule and clumsy and artless my work is.  And so often I fail to marvel at God's majestic, intricate, living, ex nihilo creation and to praise Him for how creative and awe-inspiring He is.
Shouldn't I -- shouldn't my art -- praise Him, and give Him the glory?  Shouldn't it point others to the One who made me and gave me everything, including the desire and ability to create?

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes:

“[God] wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. [God] wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talents--or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall.”

My happy place, wearing messy old clothes and getting my hands dirty playing with flowers.  

Wouldn't it be a joyful, wonderful thing to be so free of pride?  To see all work as a reflection of God's glory, and all talent as a gift from God?  It wouldn't matter how my work compared to another's, or if I couldn't quite get it right.  I could enjoy the freedom found in worshiping the Creator, and not the created.  Johann Sebastian Bach used to scrawl S.D.G. across the bottom of his compositions.  Soli Deo Gloria: To God alone be the glory.  How I need a heart that is set right, that gives Him the glory above all else.  How I need to be set free from pride to enjoy and worship Him alone, to be able to say to God be the glory.    
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