Tuesday, September 8, 2015

When Your Well is Dry...Building Your Creativity Muscles from the Source

Readers: I'm in the midst of some ACFW stuff and we bought a house and changed a job this week so I'm sharing a favorite post from earlier in the year. Hope it helps you when your own creativity is dry, as it has for me.

Bezalel. He makes an appearance in Exodus 31. I might be tempted to skip over a minor character in my Bible reading. The middle section of Exodus is chock full of genealogies and detailed instructions for the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant.

Of course, we know there are no minor characters in the Bible as every jot and tittle has much to teach us about how to live our life. And of course about the main character, Jesus who breathes out of every verse.

Twice I've read Exodus 31 and ended up journaling about Bezalel, a character who I may have skimmed over once or twice in my reading before. I discovered he had something to say to me about living the life of creativity.

The first time I thought it was a lesson just for me, the second time I decided to share. Because of the commonality of the human experience, you may have the same struggles in your creative life as I do. Or maybe you have different ones, but God may use His words to speak truth into your life.

Exodus 31:1-6 The LORD said to Moses, "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you:...

31:11b According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.

What can this passage teach us about the creative life and our calling as writers? How can what we learn from Bezalel help us when our well of ideas seems to run dry?

1) See I have called by name Bezalel...

God has given us callings for our lives. Roles designed JUST for us. Nobody else can fulfill this unique calling.

Let's not waste our time trying to reach someone else's goal. Just because the market is looking for more Amish fiction authors, doesn't mean that's what YOU should do.

DON'T LET A MARKET DEFINE YOUR CALLING.


DON'T LET MAN'S APPROVAL DICTATE YOUR CALLING.


Instead grow in your understanding of who God called you to be as a writer and as a person.

Be yourself, the unique writer God made to reflect His image to a hurting, vulnerable world.

2) I have filled him with the Spirit of God...

Are you feeling empty, with no creative energy to spare. You may be empty of human strength, but like Bezalel God has filled you up with His Spirit.


My study Bible (Lutheran Study Bible, ESV version) says: "In addition to their God-given talents as created beings, these men received supernatural abilities from the Holy Spirit."


Don't worry that your creativity isn't enough. He is filling you and He is enough.


We often talk about God giving us gifts as writers, but even more powerful are these supernatural abilities.


God's ability goes far beyond ours and is sufficient to equip us for this calling of writing.

3) ...with ability and intelligence...

I notice that AFTER mentioning Bezalel is filled with the Spirit of God, then God mentions he has gifted him with ability and intelligence.


The Spirit of God is first and more powerful, but then he also gifts with ability and intelligence. The strengths you have as a writer are those he needs you to share.


BUT God also gifted Bezalel with intelligence. To grow into our craftsmanship, we need to be intentional. We need to seek out those mentors and instructors who can help us grow. The old saying is so true, more is caught than taught. God intends us to have humility in seeking out other's help in areas in our writing where we struggle.

4)...with knowledge and craftsmanship...

God gives us many opportunities to grow these original gifts, although they are all GIVEN by Him.


Don't despise the growing process. It may take more time for some to grow into their craft than it does for others. The season of life may also influence the growing process.

But whether you are a seed, a sapling, or a "teenage" tree God wants you to keep investing in the things that will help you grow strong. Seeking out the help of others. Reading great books on craft. Attending conferences. Entering contests and paying attention to the responses of our critics even when it stings.

5)...to devise artistic designs...

God crafted you to be an artisan. From the very beginning he knew you would delight in light and color on the page, making a symphony for His glory. He created you for this purpose and then watches as you grow into it.


The creator of purple crested mountaintops and wave-shimmered beaches knew you would have a love for beauty. He wanted you to share this love with others to reflect His glory. None of this was an accident.


So can't the God who created all this help you to find the right word to describe your setting or know the best path your plot should take? Do we see Him as the God of the big picture when it comes to our writing or do we notice that He is the crafter of every detail.


6)...and behold I have appointed with him, Oholiab...

Just as he created us to be in community, he created us to be united with other writers. Don't forget that God has gifted others in areas we struggle with in our writing. He designed us to learn from each other in all areas of our lives. Learning from other writers often means admitting just how much growth we need.


Because he has appointed many other writers, we need to embrace their journeys. He has created us to cheer for each other when our contest scores are dismal. Sometimes we see other writers who are receiving the call to publication and think why them and not me? We spend time judging other writer's abilities. It is not our place to question the calling of those God places in our lives to support.

Part of our calling is to help others grow into their calling.


7) ...that they might make all that I have commanded you...

One most important part of our calling is to be obedient. What does that mean?


It might mean putting away our writing for a season to raise children or when the financial need of our family means working more hours.


Perhaps he calls you to write in a different genre than you expect. I've been spending the bulk of my time on nonfiction writing.


Maybe there is something specific he wants you to share based on your unique experience.


Whatever it means, let's get down on our knees often and ask him about our writing lives. And take the time to listen to what he might have to share with us.




When God calls my attention to a specific character in scripture more than once I know I need to pay attention. I was surprised by how much a little known character in Exodus can teach us about how to live the creative life.






Julia enjoys writing women's fiction whenever she can find a chair free of smushed peanut butter sandwiches and lego blocks. She is a wife and homeschooling mama of two littles. She writes and reviews for Library Journal and the website Wonderfully Woven.

8 comments:

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Beautiful, Julia! Bezalel has come across my radar too. I love that God called him by name. Just as He does each of us. Your post was spot on, my friend.

Robin Mason said...

I have saved this in a folder on my desktop [writing / articles] to come back to. it is so rich and speaks deeply to me I cannot digest it all in a mere quick read-through. all this to say, wonderful post, wonderful insight. thank you for sharing!

Julia M. Reffner said...

JEANNE,

I know, he seems like a minor player in the whole story yet God does mention his name. Pretty cool to think of God's individual callings for each of us!

ROBIN,

So glad God spoke to you. He is so good to provide just the word we need at the right time, isn't He?

kaybee said...

Julia, this one's a keeper. My husband is a minister and even HE never got that much out of Belzalel.
I resonated with two pieces, the one about not comparing self to other writers and the one about being humble enough to accept help. My critique partner is really strong on structure, she can recite the GMCs and "Lies They Believe" in her sleep (we shared a room at a conference). (I'm only kidding.) We are about the same age and started writing at the same time, so it's sometimes been hard for me to ask for help, but I finally buckled down this year and actively sought her help. I'm glad I did, and she is so gracious in the way she gives it.
Good post Julia!
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

Julia, I may need this one today. I need another 10,000 (NOT A MISPRINT) words for one of my WIPs to take it out of novella status. And I don't know where to go beyond where I've already gone. Fortunately it's my Speedbo project with Seekerville, so I can and probably should put it away for a while when March is done. Or prime the pump in the ways you suggested. Or both.
Thanks,
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

Julia, I may need this one today. I need another 10,000 (NOT A MISPRINT) words for one of my WIPs to take it out of novella status. And I don't know where to go beyond where I've already gone. Fortunately it's my Speedbo project with Seekerville, so I can and probably should put it away for a while when March is done. Or prime the pump in the ways you suggested. Or both.
Thanks,
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

Well I see I commented on this one twice. On the same day. In the same words.

kaybee said...

JULIA, I already commented on this one, but I still think it's good. "
Kathy Bailey