I recently completed the book Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan. I have also been teaching/facilitating a class on the book. One thing that I have learned through my years of teaching is that I learn more through preparation and teaching than I ever do as a student.
This book has really challenged and encouraged me in my journey as one who is seeking to follow Jesus. In the opening of the book Chan states that “we should throw out everything we think we know about the Holy Spirit and allow the word of God to teach us about the Spirit.” That was a very refreshing statement. It seems that so many of us Christians think we know everything about God and have all of the answers… yet we don’t listen to God or really allow His Word and Spirit to teach us.
I see this same problem in art. I have met many artists and art teachers who think they have all of the exclusive answers to art and have become the king of their own little art kingdom, and yet they are stuck making the same old art they have made for years while losing the power, vibrancy and wonder of the creative journey through discovery.
Chapter eight of the book opens with a quote from A.W. Tozer that pulls the rug out from all of our spiritual know-it-all-ness by simply stating “…and to expose our hearts to truth and consistently refuse or neglect to obey the impulses it arouses is to stymie the motions of life within us and, if persisted in, to grieve the Holy Spirit into silence.” I think this explains so much of why I feel no power in my relationship with God; I want to do it all my way… the same in my artistic life when I want to control my artistic output instead of listening to the Spirit and being refreshed through the word of God.
I love the encouragement that Chan leaves the reader with through his passion, exclaiming “my hope is that instead of searching for God’s will for my life, each of us would learn to seek hard after the Spirit’s leading in my life today.” How can I do that? I need to listen and act upon what I hear.
In my art, in my walk with Christ, in my relationship with all that I interact with, I need to allow the Spirit to invade and interrupt me. That is the lesson that I am learning.
5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. 9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. -Romans 8: 5-11 The Message
I hope this brief interruption may help you on your journey…