Scribbling in the Sand, p. 79-80

"The Character of Creativity

November 20th, 2019

Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble.

2 Peter 1:10

Long ago, in the garden, a great battle was lost when Adam responded to the call of God with the notion, "Not thy will, but mine be done."  In another, darker garden called Gethsemane, we see Jesus struggling with his own will over against the will of the Father.  Jesus is not fighting with a straw horse but with flesh and blood.  In essence, Jesus comes into the battle saying, "If there is any way this cup can pass, if there is any way you can get me out of this, do it!"  Knowing everything that lurks in the darkness before him, Jesus in his humanity says, "This is not what I want."  What else does "nevertheless not my will but thine be done" mean if there was not a genuine conflict between two wills, Jesus' will and the Father's will, there in the garden?

  The first seed of the victory won on the cross of Christ was sown in the garden.  That seed was the radical obedience of the Son.  The term "radical obedience" implies not doing what you want to do but doing the last thing in the world you want to do!  "He was obedient to death," our song says, "even death on the cross."  This can be called nothing less than radical obedience.

  When we speak of obedience we must at the same time speak of the call, of vision, since we must be obedient to something or someone.  In Jesus' case the call of God was to lay down his life for the many.  And Jesus was radically obedient to that call.

  This concept must be applied to the creative process.  In a fundamental way the creative mandate is a sort of general call.  We have seen that we can choose obedience or disobedience to this mandate.  What remains in question is whether we are capable of a nonresponse to this deep part of our inner life.

  In most cases an integral part of giftedness from God is not only the mechanical ability to paint or sing or dance but a deeper call.  This call can be seen as part of an aesthetic value system, a system that helps determine what is beautiful and what is not.  An artist paints by means of listening to this deep interior voice.  A musician writes or performs in hopes of portraying the dimensions of this call.  The vision provided by the call of God gives them eyes to see, ears to hear.  It demands a response of obedience.

  Haydn is said to have reflected, "Often when I was wrestling with obstacles of every kind, when my physical and mental strength alike were running low and it was hard for me to persevere in the path on which I had to set my feet, a secret feeling within me whispered: 'There are so few happy contented people here below, sorrow and anxiety pursue them everywhere; perhaps your work may, some day, become a spring from which the careworn may draw a few moments' rest and refreshment'" (quoted in Anthony Storr, Music and the Mind, p. 117).

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