What is the Purpose — of Art and Life?
I had the opportunity to speak at an international art exhibition examining the existence and transcendence of God. Here’s what I shared.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today I would like to make a simple proposal: ART is LIFE. And, perhaps more significantly, LIFE is ART.
Notice, I didn’t say, “LIFE is AN Art.” That would imply it takes a special skill just to live. I don’t think that’s true. We are given the GIFT of LIFE by a Creator God. That God is generous — for indeed, God gives LIFE to those who acknowledge the gift as well as those who don’t.
Most of us don’t have to make an effort to be alive. There are instances, of course, when we are struggling with a physical or psychological illness, or are quite old, on the verge of death. In those times, we may have to make an effort to be alive.
But, for the most part, we LIVE. Every day. We don’t wake up in the morning and think to ourselves, “Oh, today I will LIVE.” We just do.
What I mean when I say LIFE is ART is this: As we live out our days, our lives are producing ART. Each and every day.
The Master Artist
Indeed, we are God’s living instruments. We are the brushes a living God uses to paint His canvas in brilliant — and sometime subdued — colors.
I believe God is using us to continually create in this world. Many of you today may list “Artist” as your profession. Some of you may list “art” as a hobby.
But I believe each and every one of us is both the instrument and the artistic product — indeed, a living piece of artwork, a creation of the Divine and Holy God, who expresses His creativity through us.
This is not art displayed on a wood-framed canvas. Rather, this world is His canvas. God uses us to paint this world in vibrant color. Every. Single. Day.
How He uses us looks different for each person. But there are 3 common ways I’d like to touch on here.
(1) God calls. He calls us to live out art every day.
There is art God has designed us uniquely to be and do. For me that has meant over 20 years working with international students, and now international wives, couples & families.
Through the ministry outreach I’ve been involved in, hundreds — maybe thousands — of lives have been touched for good.
I am wise to remember always — it’s not me. It’s God using me as His instrument, his brush, in the amazing artwork of a humanity He’s calling to Himself. I am simply one of His tools.
(2) God clarifies. He makes the complex simple.
The Truth of a Creator God is that He is so much more than our minds to comprehend.
And yet, He makes this creative work apparent in the simplest of ways. Breath. Sunshine. Green leaves. A stunning sunset. Friendship. Touch. The human body. A kiss.
God is indeed mysterious, but the essence of God is simple, for God is LOVE. If we can simply allow our minds to rest there and receive this truth, we will, as humans, be at peace.
(3) God creates. We, too, are designed by God to create.
This may be the highest call for the artist — and for each one of us: to live out the calling to create. Truth is, we each have something inside us, unique to each of us, that longs to come out. To be expressed.
In more recent years, I’ve felt the burning inside to write (something I’ve always wanted to do) and take what I’ve learned from over 20 years of experience in international education & service. I want to help, inspire and motivate others.
So, along with my husband, I started a venture called YourGlobalFamily. We put stories up there to inspire, stir the heart, and move people to become more connected with a wider world in a positive way. And we also aim to help parents to raise kids with a global mindset.
In late 2016–2017, I was able to write my first book about the year we took our family abroad to live in China: Jumping Out of the Mainstream: An American Family’s Year Abroad. Now I’m at work on a second.
Writing a book is a bit like producing a baby. It’s hard work, but oh-so-rewarding! And I can see many new horizons ahead for this book, as we aim to inspire other families to take a similar step for themselves.
In this short but practical book, Dale draws from 25+ years of teaching high school and almost as many parenting our three kids into early adulthood. He’s got some words of wisdom to share with parents of kids ages 12–16.
Interested in learning more? Let me know!
What would you tell your younger self?
I want to wrap up by sharing a question my 21-year-old daughter asked me around the Thanksgiving dinner table just two nights ago. She asked me what I would tell my 21-year-old self. I thought for a moment and then told her this.
“I would tell her, ‘Pay attention to your life. Really listen to your life. You must be still to hear what it’s saying. You will find clues as to who you are to be, what you are to do, and where you are to go if you just pay attention and listen. Life passes more quickly than you realize. Live each day well.’”
[This is the message of the theologian Frederick Buechner, now 92 years old. I’ve read a few of his books and found them packed with insight.]
And, for this group here today, I would say LIVE your LIFE as ART. Every moment of it, every last drop.
👏👏👏👏👏 Did you like this story? If so, please clap away! 👏👏👏👏👏 Your interaction not only encourages me, but it also helps others find my writing. And, it’s simply a nice thing to do.
Call Out to You!
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