By Joe White, Campus Minister
Recently my family enjoyed an art festival here in Southern California, and in the midst of the family fun, I realized something about myself: I am an unofficial member of a group I’ll call “the unappreciative art appreciators.”
Here is what I mean: I walk through art festivals scanning for a painting, drawing, or sculpture that catches my eye. Upon finding this, I meander over to it, admire the attention to detail, style, vibrancy. I try to decipher its meaning, utter a sophisticated “hmmm,” squint my eyes, and say to myself, “This is an amazing work of art.”
Afterward, I walk away and begin the process again. But I never interact with the artists. It’s not that I don’t like the artists. There is no malice in my heart for the creator of these great works; tragically but simply, I’m unwilling to invest the time and energy necessary to truly appreciate their creation.
A greater tragedy than this is our strange indifference toward the Artist of artists. How easily we can stare into a sunset or a vista of seemingly endless mountains or into the face of a person whose life has been changed, and yet fail to interact with the Artist responsible for painting such glorious strokes. How seldom we bow in awe and gratitude to the One who gives us life and beauty and His precious mercy! In the midst of studying for exams, working, and planning our highly successful futures, we must learn to pause and reflect on the master Craftsman who, with brush in hand, paints all things beautiful.
The Bible teaches that the default mode of the human heart is to grumble and complain. I’m like Kobe in the 4th when it comes to complaining – it’s a done deal. Shamefully, I’m often slow to give thanks and reflect upon the glory of the One whose name the skies proclaim. I doubt I’m the only one.
The children of Israel, no more than three days after walking through a sea on dry ground, started grumbling about bitter water! Again and again they grumbled, even having the audacity to say, “We wish we were back in Egypt!” (Ex. 16:3) Before we continue to fall into the sin of Israel, let’s heed Paul’s wise words to the Philippians: a sure-fire way to not shine like a light in this world is to grumble (Phil. 2:14-16).
Pausing to ponder the Glorious Artist of our redemption is proof that the gospel of Jesus is weaving its way into our hearts. Grumbling, on the other hand, suggests something altogether different has taken root in our hearts. Far too easily the fruit of self-entitlement can begin to dominate the landscape of our lives. The only way we can daily come face to face with the grace of God at work and not pause to praise Him is if we believe God owes us something. Friends, only by God’s great love and rich mercy are we given life (Eph. 2:4-5).
The Artist’s creation and re-creation is unto our joy and ultimately unto His glory, but not because of something we’ve done. It is undeserving. It should not be taken for granted with a mere “hmmm…nice art,” but should drive us to pour out praise upon the Artist. Friends, join me in asking Christ to heal us, that we may no longer suppress the truth of His greatness. For it is minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day made clearly evident to us.
Why do we call this Wednesday at 4 pm? The inspiration came from the following quote, by one of our favorite authors:
"God, or no-God. [Sex] or blowing your brains out. Whereas and in fact my problem is how to live from one ordinary minute to the next on a Wednesday afternoon."
Walker Percy, The Last Gentleman
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