I love that God made me a creative person, and I’m convinced that when He did, He already knew that I’d connect with Him in ways that might be odd to others. I figure, God’s creative too, and He gets it. Going to church and reading the Word are absolutely important, but God’s showed up for me in lots of other ways, too.
I never feel closer to God than when I am immersed in stunning art. It could be my favorite painting of all time: Van Gogh’s Starry Night, where the colors swirl in tangible imagination and agony, burning with questions of the infinite. It could be the entire soundtrack of Secret Life of Walter Mitty, that dares me to dream bigger, live bolder, and essentially give the finger to my fears that shackle me with limits. It could be a gorgeous piece of theatre, filled with truth, hard questions, hope, and redemption.
The last show I was a part of was basically an excuse for me to hang out with God for three hours. This was the first time I’ve played an outright Christian onstage. I legitimately gave a testimony, and our non-Christian director actually gave the note to, “put in more Jesus.” The show was a comedy, focusing on the good intentions of flawed people. My character had no musical ability, so she made up “sign language,” which could more adequately be described as interpretive dancing. I’m talking pointing to the sole of my shoe to represent “soul.” Every night, people laughed. Some nights, people left, certain that we were making fun of Christians. The irony struck me hard every time. There I was, standing onstage professing my character’s faith, as a Christian, and people would stand up in a huff, and make a show of stomping out.
Everybody has certain things they’re sensitive to. I have a theory that God gave us each different lines we’re not supposed to cross so he could have every field covered with people that love him. For example, I have actor-friends who feel deeply in their souls that they should not use fowl language, even if the script requires it. They turn down projects that require such words. Language doesn’t really bother me. If what I’m saying is true to my character and propels the story without being grossly indulgent, I don’t mind. It’s real life; my job is to bring truth to situations so that a greater story can be told. However, there are lots of things I don’t do, that other Christian friends of mine will do. God needs us on all angles of the battlefield. He’s given us one big Truth, and lots of different opinions and convictions because He needs all of us on His team.
Maybe the people who tossed their heads in disgust and left (after their desserts, of course) were really sensitive to Christian comedy, or fake sign language. I’m not at liberty to say. They didn’t stick around long enough for me to ask them. But, for argument’s sake, let’s say these people were offended because they were shocked to find art that laughed with God at his people who aren’t perfect, but were just trying to figure this faith thing out. That’s what I liked about it, actually. It didn’t maliciously make fun of God or Christians. It pointed out that life and faith are hard, but we’re all doing the best we can. That’s hope. That’s truth. I think God’s down with that.
For the fist-shakers and quick-to-judgers (Sometimes, this is me), I would like to let out this cry:
FREE GOD FROM THE GOD-BOX!
I get so tired when people draw too-small expectations around me without bothering to get to know me. Don’t you think God feels the same way?
SO LET HIM OUT!
God is bigger than everything. He is not afraid of questions, originality, or perspective. He’s not afraid of the world outside of his man-made box.
I’m convinced all truth is God’s truth, even if the truth didn’t come from the mouth of someone who professes God. Truth is divine. If there is truth in a movie, book, painting, graffiti art, sunrise, conversation, let it point you back to Him. Be willing to find Him when you’re not at church. He’s always at work, always eager to spend time with you. Find Him on a hike, in the savagery of injustice, in traffic, at the grocery store.
Real relationships are messy and unconfined. May I be so bold to ask the question as to whether or not your relationship with God is messy and unconfined? Is He the guy you can call when you lost your car keys, when you need someone to talk to, when you want to go on a spontaneous adventure, or don’t know how to react to a sticky situation?
Find God where He wired you to find Him. Is it in music? Sports? Nature? Church (seriously, that’s totally ok. I'm a fan.) Figure out where you connect with God, and go there. Do those things. Immerse yourself in that.
When I feel distant from God, I start a quest for good art: a book, a movie, an art museum, whatever. It’s different every time. But I like variety. That’s how my relationship with God goes: ups and downs, seasons of inseparable to distant to inseparable again.
He’s bigger than the God that asks for your tithes on Sundays.
He’s more than the main character in a story book with lots of commands and rules.
He’s three-dimensional, immersive, and real. He once had a heart of flesh, too, so He gets it. But do you treat Him like he does? Like he’s there with you on your knees and dares you to ask him “why?” Dares you to get mad and ask questions and say things aren’t fair? Take Him out of His box so he can get down there with you in this messy thing called life.