One day God asked me not to show people any of the artworks I had made which He had not spoken to me about.
You see, ever since I became a believer ten years ago, He has been asking me to create specific paintings, pictures, and sculptures – which I have been doing. But I also had other artwork from workshops, or that I had used to practice – that He had not asked me to do. I found His request interesting because even these extra artworks I had done had a Christian theme.
Why would He not want me to show anyone?
I went ahead and removed the extra artworks from my website. At one point, I explained to a Christian friend why and shared the message I had received. My friend rebuked me, telling me that I should show everything because all artwork created by a Christian would bring God glory. But that is not what God had said. My friend seemed right, but he hadn’t tested the spirit that spoke to me. If he had –and whether he understood why or not – he would have realized that God was in it.
As a Christian artist, as in the rest of my life, I know that I cannot rely on my own understanding. Putting God first means putting myself –my individual needs, desires, and inclinations including ‘my own art’ behind His. Obviously, I knew that the art God had asked me to do was more worthwhile than that which I had done by myself even though some of His did not even have an obvious Christian theme. But I thought that what I had done without His input was still valuable enough to show others.
I guess I was wrong.
It reminds me of when, as believers, we choose to participate in Christian ministries which seem good and right, but are not God’s specific plan for our lives. Working with the youth group at church might be easy and fulfilling, but ask God first. He may want you to use that time to do something else. Fostering a child is a wonderful idea, but not if you are the wrong person for the job.
In all things, we must ask God’s opinion and then trust and obey his answer.
Artists, in particular, have a reputation for being self-absorbed and self-expressive. So it is a wonderful privilege to be a Christ-centred artist, showing other artists (and art audiences) what this looks like. Whether they know it or not, I am letting God speak through my artwork. And what He has to say is perfect, unlike my own interpretations.
Vicki Payne is an emerging artist (and musician, dancer, and writer) in Wellington, New Zealand. After a radical transformation to faith ten years ago she has been using the creative disciplines to communicate God’s love and goodness to others. Read her blog and check out her artwork online.