"Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written
in your book
before one of them came to be."
As I neared the end of school and came to a point where I had to make decisions about further studies and career paths, I had to have a real look at what my passions were and decide which interests I was going to pursue and which I would let go of. I had always loved drawing and painting and in the end, I chose to head down the fine art road, rather than design. My portfolio preparation year and the following years at art school were hard work and I was encouraged by many to let go of all other 'distractions' so that I could focus on being the best artist I could be. I'm sure that one of my tutors even said something along the lines of "From now on art is your life. You live and breathe art." I'm now at a point where I disagree very strongly with that kind of attitude, but at the time I didn't know any better so I followed instructions and dropped almost everything else. This meant I left a part time job, did a lot less sport, music, sewing...a lot less of everything else I used to enjoy! By the end of my degree I was even strongly encouraged that I had to choose between drawing and painting and that I couldn't realistically do both. It was as if you had to become super specialised in one tiny area and that's it, you don't have other interests. Any other skills or interests you thought you had, were unimportant and were just a distraction.
I won't go into detail about all the healing, unlearning, relearning, rebuilding and rediscovering that I had to go through with God on leaving art school...but I'll skip to the part where I believe he opened my eyes and since showed me that many of the things I had let go of on my journey to become good at art, had actually been put in me from the beginning for a reason! I do believe it is good and right for me to be doing art, and you definitely have to put time and effort into skills if you want to get the best out of them, but I believe that God put more than one treasure inside of me to be used and enjoyed for his glory.
A couple of years ago I was in Uganda on mission. I had been asked to paint some educational murals in a school by PFJ Ministries. Just before that opportunity came up, I had been struggling with understanding how God could possibly have a use for me as an artist. Then PFJ Ministries appeared on the scene and asked me to come on mission with them to paint their school building because I was an artist. It wasn't until I was sitting on a bus in Uganda, looking out the window at all the painted buildings that I was suddenly hit with a memory I'd long forgotten: I remembered being at primary school and telling my mum that I wanted to be a missionary when I grew up. I guess I thought I had let go of that dream years ago once I found myself on track to being an artist, because after all, you can't be more than one thing can you? You can't have more than one dream. But as I sat on that bus as both an artist and a missionary, I began to wonder.
As God opened my eyes, I continued to see new ways that my art skills could be used in mission and to build his kingdom. But alongside this, I felt him resurrect other passions in me and show me how they too could be used for his glory. My love of sport resurfaced and I began running regularly. As I did so, I realised how not only do I love running, it's actually so important that I look after my body and am fit. It's important to be fit anyway, but particularly when you go on mission you can find yourself in the most unusual circumstances and if I were unexpectedly asked to climb a mountain or trek somewhere, it wouldn't be the first time! So many passions that were in me from the beginning have found their way back to the surface and I find myself enjoying singing, songwriting, crafting, language learning and baking again to name a few! I have a new appreciation and dream for each activity and I can see how each one can be used not only for my enjoyment, but also for the building of God's Kingdom. I see they had a purpose from the beginning.
So now I find myself sewing on the sewing machine. I'm creating new designs, I'm figuring out how to pass the skills on to others, I'm learning how to dream again and I'm loving every minute! I'd like to ask you, what desires and passions were put inside of you from the beginning? Is there something you always enjoyed but let go of so you could focus on other things? A hobby or skill that you dismissed as pointless? I encourage you today, to reconsider these things. If like me, you realise you might have buried your talents, whether out of fear, hopelessness, lack of faith, bad choices, or any other reason...don't worry! Just tell God that you're sorry for doing so and ask him to breathe his resurrection life over the passions and treasures that he put in you from the beginning. Ask him to replace the years that the locusts ate and to help you look at things in a new way with eyes of faith. Ask him to help you dream again and bring these dreams to life using what he gave you for his glory and to build his kingdom. He had these gifts planned for you from the beginning.