The Artist’s Desire

By

The question was raised here recently whether the artist’s pursuit is selfish.

There is no template that covers everyone on the “making a living at art” issue. We are all individuals in different places in life and with varying temperaments, childhoods and experiences, and God of course deals with us as such and not as a subset of humanity known as “artist” (even though contract riders do).

When I was a teen I had a burning desire to play music; it was all I wanted to do for a living. I had to fight through the disapproval of some of the adults in my family, well meaning as it was, and had to fight through the fears that maybe they were right and I should get “a real job” and “When’s the vacation going to end?” and simply work hard for two houses, one at the lake, a boat, a fat retirement, and “the good life.” The only way I made it through was via reliance on Matthew 6 and Malachi 3.

This burning desire in me was placed there by God; as a teen and in my twenties I sat in my room for hours upon end and played guitar and banjo because I loved the thing itself, and still do. Escape? Probably to some degree. Did I have self-worth issues back then? Definitely. But the desire to play music was there; it is there still.

As I watch my son, I note he has the same inner bonfire, in his case to draw and write stories. Is this a God-given talent and desire?

I believe it is. That desire can be twisted; he can be turned from the sheer love of the thing itself to the approval he gets from it. My son can bury it and become a doctor or lawyer. But God doesn’t do recalls. That talent will be there, buried, unused, undeveloped, and as a result he will be chased by a sense of dissatisfaction.

I think it comes down to this. Whatever the gift is, we’ve got to ask ourselves, “Would I do this thing even if no one ever heard it, saw it but God? Do I have sufficient passion to continue doing this the rest of my life? Do I love the thing itself or the approval I get, or hope to get, from others from it?” If we have that desire, that love for the thing itself, it is really hard or in some cases impossible to quench that blazing fire.

Is the desire selfish? It can be, if anything but the Spirit of God is in control of the man. But desire is neutral in and of itself, which means desire can be redirected – plugged into the Source – and used an engine for the fuel of the Spirit.

If we have a low view of the redeemed human, believing “The heart of man is desperately wicked” rather than “If any man is in Christ he is a new creation,” and the fact that we have new hearts in Christ, we will be constantly suspicious of our own motives.

Some people will have this fiery passion to play music or write or paint and yet have to work at a day job to support their families. If their desire is burning hot they will still manage to carve out time to do the thing, be it painting, music, writing, or whatever form of creativity. Or they can couple it with something else, like giving guitar lessons and such.

In Christian circles we are taught to be so afraid of our humanity that we can’t conceive of firmly seeing ourselves as gifted without thinking we’re arrogant or proud. We are so afraid of sin that we miss out on God’s things – the development and use of those talents God has given us. We call the exercise of those things “selfish.” But to be selfish is to be misdirected, to lose the eternal view. A musician, with a family at home, on the road for 250 dates a year. Selfish? Probably. But a CEO of a corporation can be just as selfish, getting a sense of worth through his work, just like the musician, spending all his time away from his family and yet thinking, “I am a good father because I’m a good provider.”

To love doing a thing is not selfish. It is one of the things God made us for – for our pleasure as well as His. It is when that desire or love for music or writing or painting takes over our life and we neglect other things – family, finances, responsibilities. In the same way we can magnify the pleasure of eating and become gluttons. The desire to eat and the pleasure of it aren’t wrong; when food is made a god and our life is dominated by our taste buds we’re being self-ish.

The last thing is that all desire, all talent, all of our being, must be laid out at the feet of Jesus Christ; everything must go to and through the Cross. “Nothing, not even the best and noblest, can go on as it now is. Nothing, not even what is lowest and most bestial, will not be raised again if it submits to death. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” When we do this with our talents, we will find that God “really loves the hairless bipeds He has created and always gives back to them with His right hand what He has taken away with His left.”

Is the artist’s pursuit a selfish one? It can be. Or it can be a means of God manifesting Himself to the world. It can be incarnational, and I don’t mean “Christian art” or “Christian music” but simply art and music.

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he’s not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin’ on audiences around the world, he’s taking care of his donkey named “Trash” and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


47 Comments

  1. Aaron Alford

    “Would I do this thing even if no one ever heard it, saw it but God?”

    Sometimes I’m pretty sure no one else ever has! But it feels right and good to dig these things out of my soul, and in the process form something that’s new.

    Other times, it’s some of those “other things” that can lead me to neglect that soul from which I create. That’s when I need to be reminded that writing is not just a nice hobby, but an important spiritual discipline that secures me to God. And that leads me back to doing it even if no one reads it but God himself.

  2. Becca (I. Ray)

    I’m pretty sure I’ve cheated on every 4-pronged group personality test I’ve ever taken. Changing a few answers always bumps me over the line from melancholy to sanguine. Who wants to enter a new dynamic diagnosed with Eeyore?

    Yeah. There is something about the artistic temperament that always feels shameful to me. Needing big chunks of time to think, read, and be alone with Jesus. Feeling to the edges of strong questions, and prayerfully digging up whatever waits there. The labor of making. Spending time with friends who think about the world in those terms. I always feel a little guilty in that groove.

    Unfortunately, faking perky doesn’t allow me to commune with God wholly. So, I live torn. Mary or Martha? Or is it even that simple?

    Anyway, thanks for processing these things publicly. It’s helpful.

  3. Natalie Jacobson

    Reminds me of this verse in 1 Peter: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (4:10)

  4. Chris

    There has never been a doubt in my body that I was made to make music. I work a full time job and play/teach/compose at night and in the AM before work. I was away from God for a long time but I never lost the drive. Now that I am getting back to him ( for wich a playing opportunity was the catalyst), I can see I had gotten selfish in my persuit to make that music.

    “…it can be a means of God manifesting Himself to the world.” — I know now that I can do this through the way I lead my band, the way I act at gigs and with my students, and as an exapmle every second of my life.

    “and I don’t mean “Christian art” or “Christian music” but simply art and music.” – To me, those are lables that block out so many people. So often, Christians are afraid to admit that something other than a moment of worship inspired them. God knows that life isn’t easy and he has given us the ability to write or paint or play as a way to deal with things as well as to worship. Artistic content conjured up from a death or being cheated or stolen from or whatever is still life. It should be conveyed with a Christian heart through whatever medium fits you.

  5. Leanore

    Ron, thanks for that insight on the heart. It’s true that we don’t know the depths of our own wicked hearts, but neither can we imagine the great things God will draw out of our hearts as he transforms them to be like Jesus. It’s still a tension that we have to live with, but the change of focus is what we desperately need. When I stopped the hopeless struggle over my motivations, and just threw all of it in his direction to sort it out and make it right, that’s when I started being a better musician than I ever imagined.

  6. Stacy Grubb

    “…and I don’t mean “Christian art” or “Christian music” but simply art and music.”

    Love this.

    I did a local show and a couple from church came out. The husband picked up one of my CD’s and eyeballed it in a way that I started to feel awkward…like somehow there was an “I Love Satan” in the swoops and swirls of the background and no one up until this point had caught it. I was kind of like being caught with your hand in the cookie jar, though I had no idea what he was thinking or even what he could be thinking. Finally, he looked at me and said, “How many Christian songs are on this?” I instinctively went into explanation mode: “Well, there’s only one, but it’s a really good one and I like to view the others as life in the absence of God, blah, blah, blah.” I’m not sure how much of my justification he heard because as soon as I said, “one,” he threw the CD down onto the table and looked at me as if my existence disgusted him and then walked away in that manner that self-righteous people do. That’s right, readers. I’m a Hellion. I came here to party and drink beers. CD sells pay for all my tight jeans.

    Stacy

  7. Leigh McLeroy

    “Everything must go to and through the cross.” I’ll keep that for a long time, Ron. I once worked for a CEO who used his staff (not me, thankfully) to write letters from him to his kids at camp, which he would then sign for someone else to mail. It sickened me, but truthfully, my colleague’s ghost-written “Love, Dad” letters were kinder and wiser than the man himself. I think he may have successfully — and inadvertently — innoculated me from loving the “perks” of any job too much.

  8. Bald Headed Brian

    The fact that God enjoys what we are doing with our talents, whether or not anyone else even sees them, is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Time after time, when I’ve shown someone something I’ve made, their first response is, “you could SELL THAT!” There’s always some angle, some way of trying to bottle that talent and get rich or famous…all for the glory of God of course. I admit, for years and up until now, I’ve pretty much thought the same things about my gifts. I’ve only recently come to the conclusion that I don’t have to make a bazillion dollars or become famous for my art to be worth anything. All this isn’t to say that we shouldn’t sell our art or make careers from it, but for me personally, I was at a place where I believed that if I wasn’t using my art for those reasons, then I wasn’t doing it, myself or God justice, I wasn’t taking it seriously.

    Now, I’ve finally come to a point where I don’t believe I have to make a living from my art. I believe that just using my talents that God has given me can bring Him glory. Like everything else, there is a balance. I can be both selfish and giving in my art, and often am both.

    For me, I’m going to try to make my art to bring God glory, even if it’s only in that I’m exercising, expanding, improving, making use of the gift He has given me.

  9. Dryad

    Time after time, when I’ve shown someone something I’ve made, their first response is, “you could SELL THAT!” There’s always some angle, some way of trying to bottle that talent and get rich or famous…all for the glory of God of course. ‘
    Totally off topic, I wish people thought that about MY work…

  10. joel

    not that we can know motives, but did they view it as “art” or were they just writing letters or memoirs? i guess i ask because i don’t feel any burning fire to “create.” and all the posts here make me feel like i’m less valuable. there are hobbies i enjoy, and like eric liddell i can strive to do them to the glory of God, but there may or may not be any purpose or redemption in riding a bike or catching a fish.

  11. I. Ray Schikuns

    Exodus 35…

    30Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.

  12. joel

    i’m just saying not everyone is an artist, and we can be fully alive that way. 🙂 2 guys (and their helpers) out of 2,000,000 israelites kind of proves that.

  13. I. Ray Schikuns

    Joel,

    Your honesty about feeling threatened in your second post is admirable. So often critics will just stop after statement like your first one, without exploring why they feel the need to question someone else’s gift. Just imagine how much more effectively the church could function if we all just confessed the temptations our insecurities bring instead of hiding them behind suspicion and blame. I commend you for that honesty.

    I think I might understand some of the feelings you are having, even though I am “artsy.” When I see people with the ability to run Dave Ramsey responsibility through their finances, I get a little defensive. A friend of mine just finished a triathlon for God’s glory. I’m a little jealous of that. I can’t sing, and sometimes I feel a little empty when I hear someone worshiping who can. But those feelings (when I have them) ultimately, stem from my desire to be worthwhile independent from the value the gospel imparts into me.

    Yesterday I was reading Martin Luther’s _Preface to the Galatians_, and he was talking about the difference between active righteousness and passive righteousness. The latter being what God gives us … something imparted and undeserved. Something our talents cannot secure for us. I’d be interested in how that piece interacts with some of your feelings, if you feel like digging it up online.

    Of course there are also New Testament passages on different gifts having value. But I’m sure someone else will write about that.

    Fishing? I think that’s cool. Also, Jesus seemed to be pretty fond of folks with that gift… 😉

  14. I. Ray Schikuns

    *NOTE* I’m also looking for a place in Scripture that defends the use of sentence fragments and comma splices. So if anyone can help me out…

    Also the dangling of prepositions.

  15. JenniferT

    Joel, ironically it is usually the artists who are made to feel less valuable by the church; that is the reason for many of these posts. But you are no less valuable for having other driving passions in your heart (note this is not the same thing as a “hobby,” much less a career) than the desire to create. And if that fire in your heart is a fire that God has kindled there, and you do it for His glory, then you are a different kind of artist: one who is creating a work of art out of your life.

  16. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Joel: everyone is creative at some level. Not everyone has a burning passion to make music, or pottery, or paintings, or books. I know women who create homes, who create loving environments for their kids, who create new businesses. All of life is creative if we see it rightly; life is a continual stream of problem solving which requires spontaneity. That is what an artist does; he problem-solves. There’s a big block of marble; how do I get it from a big rectangle to a statue of a dog? That’s a problem. I figure out the problem, which creates new problems, and so on, until the statue is finally good enough for me to release it and quit working on it.

    Did Jesus work in Joseph’s shop?

    Paul was a word artist. John, too.

    The actual post above of course does not say anywhere, “Artists are better than the common rabble” or that everyone should make music or other art, or even that everyone has some passion for art of some kind and if they do not follow it they will live miserable dissatisfied lives. The post is addressed to artists; other may read it as they will, but it is not intentionally saying anything to anyone other than the artist, except incidentally.

  17. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Joel: also, you are correct that all things can be done to the glory of God. There is no such thing as a separation between sacred and secular. When we abide all activities are sacred, washing dishes, making food, walking alone, target practice, driving to the store.

  18. Nick and Susan

    Regarding ‘Christian’ art/music. I remember way back in the early ’90s as a baby Christian, being horrified at hearing Michael W. Smith say, ‘I don’t plan on making a record for the Christian market and then a record for the secular market, I just make a record’.

    This shocked me at the time, surely all his music ought to be absolutely and thoroughly on purpose ‘Christian’. I retorted at the screen!

    I no longer follow his music, but years later I understand the point he was trying to make. And although I can’t think of anything better than singing to/about Jesus or this ‘Walk’ we’re all on, I no longer feel the need to have everything ‘stamped’ with ‘Christian’.

    Susan

  19. Laura B

    I appreciate your beautiful post, Ron. I am struggling with trying not to be “selfish” in my attitude about my writing. I do love the thing itself and count that as a great gift from God. But do I want others to see it? You bet. Is that shameful? On one hand it probably is, on the other, isn’t art to communicate? Yesterday I received a crushing rejection from a big-time literary agent who got my hopes up about representing my manuscript. It was not the first, but it particularly stung. Is this fleshly me? I’m not even sure how to bring this all to the Lord. I would love to hear what you and others think…

  20. Becca (I. Ray)

    Becca (I. Ray) said:

    This afternoon I spent about an hour helping our newly adopted son make a fall craft. He’s never had the supplies or attention to make things before, and so he was ASTONISHED to see that he could be a part of helping beauty happen.

    Man, the look on his face… shy and thrilled. When he realized what had happened, he immediately started saying, “Daddy! Daddy!” Ran downstairs. Had to show his father the work of his hands so they could celebrate together. And they did.

    There are volumes in that, I think.

    (Photos here, if you want to see.)

    http://littlebootsliturgies.blogspot.com/2010/09/todays-craft.html

    (My forum name keeps changing back and forth because I’m using two browsers. Same person. ‘Gonna try to fix that soon. Anyway…)

  21. Susan D.

    Ron: Thank you for this post. I have also wondered at times whether my artistic pursuits are selfish. You helped me clean the lens through which I view my abilities and artistry.

    Bald Headed Brian: I have been considering similar thoughts of late. I really appreciated your comment. Thanks for re-affirming my own conclusions that there is value in my art whether or not it is shared or sold in the public realm.

  22. Brad D.

    Thanks Ron for opening your Head and Heart up for us …. Your absolutely provocative writing assured me that my many thoughts regarding my Gifts and use of time to use and exercise them for their highest potential (namely Music) is firmly under his Care and Control …. All Praise and Glory to God !!!

  23. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Laura: “Those who would make art might well begin by reflecting on the fate of those who preceded them: most who began, quit…Basically, those who continue to make art are those who have learned how to continue – or more precisely, have learned how to not quit.” Bayles & Orland, Art & Fear

    Several book suggestions: Art & Fear. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Walking on Water, by Madeleine L’Engle. If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland. As one who has struggled with some of the same issues, I’ve found these books very helpful.

    The main thing is to keep going. No one ever says at 40, “I’m glad I quit piano when I was 13.”

    As Screwtape put it, we are well able to keep honing our talents and abilities without deciding upon our own precise niche in the Temple of Fame. A quote from Ueland’s book: “A great musician once told me that one should never play a single note without hearing it, feeling that it is true, thinking it beautiful. Work with all your intelligence and love. Work freely and rollickingly as though you were talking with a friend who loves you. Mentally (at least three or four times a day) thumb your nose at all know-it-alls, jeerers, critics, doubters.”

    Another one from her book: “The creative…imagination is in everyone, and so is the need to express it…But what happens to it? It is very tender and sensitive, and it is usually drummed out of people early in life by criticism…by teasing, jeering, rules, prissy teachers, critics, and all those unloving people who forget that the letter killeth and the spirit giveth life. Sometimes I think of life as a process where everybody is discouraging and taking everybody else down a peg or two.”

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting others to hear our music or read our writing. Art is communication. But it is when wanting approval from others outweighs our desire to get better at it, when we can’t hear criticism without being discouraged; in such a case, it is really because we are not faith-ing in the God who gave us the gift. I have often in my life been in such a state and have since learned faithe more in the Giver. We have to of course fully enter in to our work, yet not be so emotionally attached to it that we cannot critique it properly.

  24. Laura B

    Ron and Becca, Thank you both for your encouragement. Becca, what a lovely picture of your little one wanting to share his creation. Ron, thanks for reminding me of some old friends–I may need to dust off my L’Engle and Ueland and reread, at least all the bent pages. I’ll have to check out the other two books you mentioned. But thanks most of all for helping me start to shift my focus from outcome back to intention, process–and faith in the giver.

  25. Aaron Alford

    “The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

    This is a quote from Van Gogh that I first read many years ago, and it’s always stayed with me. My art (which in itself should be an expression of love) should be part of a circle that draws me back to the most artistic task of loving others. The act of loving others should draw me to express facets of that task through art. My art won’t become selfish if it is, in fact, “othersish”.

  26. Charles

    Truth.

    Especially “It can be incarnational, and I don’t mean “Christian art” or “Christian music” but simply art and music.”

    Anything done well is Christian- it doesn’t require the label. Especially when it comes to art, which manifests the creativity of our Creator.

    Do we need to call Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach’s cello suites “Christian” to realize our hearts are touched by God’s beauty? No. It speaks for itself. And God speaks through it.

  27. David Van Buskirk

    What a beautiful discussion on an easily overlooked topic; vocations.

    God at times may feed someone through manna from the sky, but on a daily basis he is feeding us through the hands that bake bread for their vocation. God gives grace and mercy to sinful people through the daily labors of other sinful people doing their daily work. And in our daily work, as we serve one another in love, he brings Shalom all according to His design and purpose.

    He is the builder and the architect of a kingdom of servants that will last forever, working in love under the authority of Jesus Christ.

  28. Becca (I. Ray)

    “Anything done well is Christian- it doesn’t require the label.”

    Charles, I wonder if you define “done well” differently than I do?

    My strongest, most confusing temptations in life have all been a pull toward things wrought with artistic excellence.

  29. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    A quote for the discussion with Joel: “‘What is that in thine hand?’ Is it a hoe, a needle, a broom? A pen or a sword? A ledger or a schoolbook? A typewriter or a telephone? Is it an anvil or a printer’s ruler? Is it a carpenter’s plane or a plasterer’s trowel? Is it a throttle or a helm? Is it a scalpel or a yardstick? Is it a musical instrument or the gift of song? Whatever it is, give it to God in loving service. Many a tinker and weaver and stonecutter and hard worker has had open windows and a sky, and a mind with wings!” Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, Springs in the Valley

  30. Becca (I. Ray)

    Charles, I worded that statement badly. Happy, babbling toddler running about while I’m typing. Hard to concentrate. I was wondering if you could expand on this idea, please?

    I agree that the Lord’s beauty and truth can be found in secular sources. Visual arts. Music. Dance. Gardens. Poetry. He has used all of those at times to speak to me.

    But my most intense temptations have also been sourced in artistic excellence. I can worship beauty if my heart isn’t kept in check.

    Also, what do you do with art that is technically well done, but made to worship other gods? What about incredible art whose creators would bolt at the label of Christian?

    I’m interested in your general concept, because I can ALMOST embrace it. Wasn’t it Keats who argued beauty is truth and truth beauty? But honoring beauty can also get too big and dangerous… taking on a worship of its own.

    So, I wanted to clarify in case my comment seemed like a criticism. It wasn’t intended that way. I just would like to hear more of what you meant.

  31. Stacy Grubb

    Becca, if I may chime in with my two cents: From a selfish standpoint, unless I *am* the creator, then art isn’t really about the creator. What I mean is, if I’m looking at a painting that I didn’t paint or listening to a song that I didn’t write, I really don’t give much thought to what the artist meant to convey. I only think about what it means to me. So, I can feel closer to God through art that was made by an atheist. I don’t bring the artist’s background or beliefs or views or heart with me. It’s all about me.

    Stacy

  32. Charles Atkinson

    Thank you for asking for clarification, Becca. In my enthusiasm I used very broad terms instead of being specific.

    Art done well makes us more aware of reality in all its richness. At the core of that reality is our Creator and thus art isn’t creation on the part of the artist as much as it is a discovery of the Divine Artist and all of his creation- most of all ourselves, the human person.

    So excellent art discovers and reflect something about reality, which makes the One who breathes all into existence and sustains reality present. Consciously or not a skilled artist responds to the order and beauty of Creation. Aristotle defined art as an imitation of nature. The balance and harmony in an arrangement of musical tones or precise effect of a mixture of colors on a canvas are all in imitation of nature. And if they imitate nature, they imitate its Creator.

    This imitation can come from any source that does this with integrity. It can come from “secular” sources. But are these sources really secular if, through their beauty, they transcend our human experience and turn us toward the Creator? It seems to me that, whether or not the artist is aware of it, he is in fact glorifying God when he responds well to that divine creative spark in our human soul.

    I suppose this is why I am uncomfortable with the music industry trying to separate music into “Christian” and everything else. For whether or not something is labeled by a record company as “Christian”, if done well with integrity, it is in fact Christ-like. Moreover, when the emphasis is placed on the label and appearance of the art instead of the thing itself we can easily lose sight of the whole purpose of art.

    Now of course art and beauty can become idols as you wisely pointed out. We can deceive ourselves with the unreality that we are the sole creators of this art. But I think this is precisely because art is so powerful and has the ability to be divine-like. I saw this when I was studying jazz piano at music school. My fellow musicians were capable of producing so much beauty but could not see it in its greater context, as a reflection of the divine. I ached for them because I wanted so much for them to see and hear what I was seeing and hearing at their concerts. But for many of them the music became an end in itself which can rapidly become a self-centered, isolated pursuit. Unfortunately, if this sentiment remains unchecked, the art itself can gradually decline into an esoteric mish-mash of frantically trying to create something that is “new.”

    However, when we approach music and the rest of the arts in the greater context of the Creator God who manifests himself through all His Creation we can, in a sense, sanctify the beauty that is present there by seeing through it to its Source. And in return we can allow ourselves to be sanctified by receiving the gift of His presence through the beautiful.

    Mozart’s Requiem has not survived the centuries just because it was written for the Mass but also because Mozart was a master of balance and harmony. And this excellence makes it an all more worthy and powerful conduit of God’s voice and our worship.

    (P.S. Your questions got right to the heart of the matter and provoked such fascinating thoughts that I posted this exchange to my own blog where I hope the discussion can continue!)

  33. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Charles, good words. One of my favorite bits from The Great Divorce: “Ink and catgut and paint were necessary down there, but they are also dangerous stimulants. Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him. For it doesn’t stop at being interested in paint, you know. They sink lower–become interested in their own personalities and then in nothing but their own reputations.’”

  34. Kyle Heath

    There’s a sensitive line between guilt over doing art and conviction about neglecting responsibility. And it’s hard because you FEEL both guilt and conviction. If you can look at your day and say, “I have not neglected my responsibility to my God/wife/children/job etc,” then you are free! And then your job becomes actively ignoring the critics (internal and external) that say you ought to be doing something “useful.”

  35. Mike Ramsey

    Just to let you know……big ole Mike Ramsey can count among his blessings on this earth the fact that God allowed him to cross paths with ole Ron Block, the banjoist (banjo-est ) Godly, artistic servant, who is so willing to be used of His Lord that he sends out little sermons and good readings to all those who befriend him, that they would hopefully be pointed towards HIM.

    Reading, writing, whether it be songs or scriptures, is what God has built into you and you’re cool enough to share your interests with those around you, all the time following Him.

    Me and you both know that it’s Him that doing all the work and you’re just being obedient.

    Thanks kindly son,

    Mike

  36. JWitmer

    I’m starting to work my way through the richness of the archives, and just wanted to say thanks, Ron. The article and discussion here are encouraging. I started out selfish, expecting that I would do what my gifts led me to, and God would have to provide for my family. I learned that I needed to love them more than myself and find a way to provide first.

    I needed to find the joy on the other side of sacrificial love and submission. But since then I have felt guilt over my life-long longing to spend time creating. I have to look at objective things – have I spent the time talking to my children, have I stopped and looked into my wife’s eyes. If I have, and there is time available, I grasp encouragement like this article and push past the accusations that I’m wasting my time on things not even God appreciates. And I try to create an echo to His beauty.

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