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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Is creativity always this hard?

(www.freedigitalphotos.net)

(www.freedigitalphotos.net)

It’s easy to get sucked into the web. I start out googling some piece of information I want to know more about, move on to another site, and another, and end up hours later with not a whole lot to show for my efforts. Goodness, but there’s a lot of junk out there!

But there’s also some brilliant stuff. Don’t you just love Amazon’s “look inside” function that allows you to pore over book excerpts? Last week I managed to read a few tidbits from several great books, then I found myself reading the authors’ blogs, and I ended up by watching videos they had posted about their work. By then it was time for a coffee break!

Now what?

What I read was interesting and inspiring and exciting, but in some ways, also just a little bit discouraging.

It’s funny that, how other people’s artistry can bring you pleasure and yet dishearten you at the same time. Perhaps it’s how a musician feels when he hears a beautifully-composed piece of music for the first time… appreciating its masterly creation but wishing he could produce something equally meaningful.

But despite the twinges of envy, I can sense God turning over and over in my mind and heart some of the fragments I’ve read. Somehow I know they’re important, and that He wants to use them in my life in some way, and change something in my heart because of them. But what?

These thoughts and senses have been filling my head for weeks. But it’s difficult to understand where God’s going with it all, and what He’s doing.

Slosh, slosh, slosh

When I was little and my mum bought her first frontloading washing machine, I would sit in front of it, watching the water fill up – agonisingly slowly – and the clothes sloshing around and around till all the frothy soapsuds pressing up against the glass door obscured the view.

And that’s how it feels right now. Everything seems mixed up and tumbled together, and the foam so thick I can’t see what’s going on inside. The process feels long and confusing, and I can’t help wondering if it’s going to come to something, or nothing.

I’m hoping – really hoping – that if I keep listening, God is going to end the cycle, pop open the door, and bring out something beautiful and fresh and clean, and that I’ll know exactly what to do with it!

 

How do you make sense of the creative ideas God gives you? What process works for you?

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Jesus, in unexpected places

It says in the Bible that it is the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth (John 14:17), and it is a beautiful mystery that He often helps us encounter Jesus in so many places we would never think to look or expect to find Him.

Recently I watched for the first time the 2007 film The Kite Runner, based on the bestselling book by Khaled Hosseini from 2003.

It focuses on the friendship between two boys – privileged Amir and poor Hassan – and is set against the background of Afghanistan under the rule of the monarchy in the 1970s, then Soviet Russia, and finally the Taliban.

Exploring themes of innocence, sacrifice and redemption, the story unfolds in a Muslim context, so I doubt very much that the author or producers ever intended the film to make any reference to Christ. Yet for me, He was unmistakeably present.

The servant boy

I was profoundly struck by the Christ-like portrayal of Hassan, the servant boy, who willingly endures great suffering for the sake of his well-to-do friend.

It begins early in the film, when we see the brave little Hassan choosing to protect the weaker, fearful Amir from neighbourhood bullies, the same persecutors who mock Hassan as being of inferior race.

Then, the movie’s pivotal scenes, Kabul’s kite-flying competition which Amir so desperately wants to win in order to gain his father’s approval, show Hassan refusing to hand over to the bullies the winning kite he has fetched for Amir.

His loyalty costs him dearly – he is subjected to a brutal, physical and sexual assault by the leader of the gang, a vicious sociopath. And this while Amir hides in the shadows, too afraid to stop the attack, and unwilling to risk losing the love and admiration of his father that failure to bring home the winning kite will mean.

The blood

He is riddled with guilt and feelings of unworthiness, contrasted strongly with Hassan’s sacrificial goodness, and in a fit of rage strikes his friend with ripe pomegranates, the crushed, blood-red flesh staining Hassan’s clothes. In an unmistakeable moment, Hassan picks up the fruit to crush it against his own forehead, willingly accepting the punishment that should have fallen on Amir.

Amir’s actions have profound consequences. The depth of his guilt and Hassan’s love eventually lead to Hassan accepting his friend’s false accusation that he is a thief, and he and his father must leave their home and employment out of shame. Ultimately, Hassan’s faithfulness to Amir’s family results in his death many years later.

It is a supreme act of sacrifice, where the Jesus-like figure – a humble, scorned boy – lays down everything for the sake of the friend that has betrayed him.

The Kite Runner is a profoundly moving story, but it was made all the richer for me by the presence of Jesus… in such an unexpected place.

Have you met Jesus in an unexpected place recently? How did it make you feel?