Maybe you realize that your life is an upside-down pyramid. You feel more fear, anxiety, insecurity, and insecurity on a daily basis than peace, joy, and love. So how do you move from one side to the other? How does my life actually become a right-side-up pyramid?
In order to fully answer those questions I’ve personally had to move to the spiritual side of things: I’ve found that I have to turn to God.
This article shares what I have come to believe in my own life. I look forward to having an open discussion with you about these ideas in the comments below!
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, an amazing poet named Isaiah wrote:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!Isaiah 30:15-16, 18
I’ve read this Scripture for years. What resonated the most with me was the image of fleeing on horses. My default position on almost all my problems was to emotionally jump on a swift horse and either fix or flee from the problem. I trusted only myself and my worldly skill at coping with life. I saw what God (“the sovereign Lord”) said about rest and quiet and trust being good things, but it didn’t make sense because I wanted to fix whatever was going on myself. And the word repentance bothered me a lot. To me, repentance meant that I should get my entire life into perfect order before I could experience rest and quiet and trust.
Then about three years ago, a teacher pointed out to me that the Hebrew word Isaiah used is sometimes translated “repentance,” but it really is the word return. If I simply “turn” to God each day, the act of being in His presence would give me the rest and quiet that my soul deeply yearned for. It dawned on me that my part in this process was simply to remember to “turn” to Him and to trust, to believe that it’s true that God longs to be gracious and to show compassion to me, even though I am far from perfect.
Wow, this is gigantic! My job is to turn to Jesus and believe that what’s said in the Bible is true, and out of that comes my strength and even my salvation. And this can happen daily, even hourly, if I remember to turn and believe.
The Source of the Power to Change
Please do not think that transformation happens because we simply want it to occur. No matter how hard one tries, no one can really transform themselves. Transformation happens inside our hearts and souls because of something Jesus did two thousand years ago that released the power needed to change our lives. When Jesus died on the cross on Friday and then was raised to life again on Sunday, incredible power was released. This is the Spiritual power that even today allows us to be freed from all the bad stuff that we carry around. Our job is simply to turn to Jesus and say: “Thank you for what you did for me. I choose to believe and accept your astonishing gift of love, even though I don’t really deserve it. I want you to clean up my life – and you made that possible on the Cross – and I’m choosing you to be my leader as I move ahead into my new life of freedom. I want to follow you as an artist and a person, no matter where that leads.”
Honestly, I don’t know how Jesus does what He does – and He is as alive today in 2020 as He was on Easter Sunday Two Thousand years ago – but He changes lives when we turn to Him. That power of love and freedom is with us today, and our loving God is eager to continue unwrapping the lies that have circled themselves around our hearts. All we need to do is to say “yes!” to Him. Real freedom is the result of accepting God’s unconditional love.
In Surrender to Love, Dr. Benner states that God’s response to us, when we choose to turn and believe, is to fill us with His love. In a way that I don’t really understand, we become, each time, more like Jesus, who is the perfect model of love. If I’m willing to surrender and receive this gift of love, I can somehow become love, at the very center of my identity.
Dr. Benner says:
“When I am confronted with my frequent failures in love, my first instinct has always been to try harder. I try harder. And nothing changes. The reason nothing changes is that the focus is still on me. Love cannot be simply a result of discipline and resolve. It must flow from the heart. The love I need is the love of God as His love becomes mine. Christian conversion is not merely encountering love. Christian conversion involves becoming love.”
Returning to the identity pyramid, we see that with the stable pyramid, our performance (our “doing”), is the overflow of our personhood (our “being”). God’s plan for us, His kids, is not to just perform love. He wants our performance to actually be the overflow of our identity as a person of love. Yes: He wants us to become love—to become His beloved children, miraculously being transformed to resemble Jesus.
And even though I don’t understand how this transformation happens, and I do know that I don’t deserve it, I want it. The personal benefit to me is gigantic—with love and all that love brings—peace, hope, and joy. And for us artists, we can actually create and express ourselves in ways that can make the world a better place. We can focus on beauty and truth, unencumbered by all the “oughts” and “shoulds” and “have-to” things that the world demands.
Even today, after all these years, I can forget to turn and believe. But each moment I do remember gives me new opportunities to learn about myself and to grow closer to the Lord. God never changes and never forgets His kids—even us artists. Turn and believe! And watch with wonder as God turns the pyramid of your life right-side up!
One of the most comforting verses to me in the Bible is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He writes that:
“We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”Ephesians 2:10
The New Living Translation says, “we are God’s masterpiece.” When looking at our identity it is crucial to remember that God created us, gave us free gifts and talents, and did all of this because He plans for us to do good works. And for us artists, this means He gives us the opportunity to use our communication gifts for the common good. We were created in God’s image to use our talents to tell stories and create dances and films and make music that connects the hurting world to truth and beauty and social justice and real peace. What a wonderful gift!
Take a moment to reflect on the verse “we are God’s masterpiece” while looking at this sculpture by Edgar Degas. You might think about what surprises you about this idea.
How do I move from fear to stability?
By choosing to let God transform us. It’s really that simple.
Do you agree or disagree? How have you been able to move from fear to stability in your own life?
Fear can feel rational, because sometimes we do fail. So what does God do then? Read more here: How Does God Respond to Failure?
Photo credits: Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash; Sheri Hooley on Unsplash; James on Unsplash; Christina Calderon; The Metropolitan Museum of Art