The muddied paints remain open on my desk, beside them is the jar of blue-tinted water I had been using to rinse my brush. Not one, but two unfinished paintings sit underneath a messy spread of books, papers, and old journals I’ve been rummaging through for a new project I’m working on. My computer sits in the corner, unopened except for a small sliver of time when two of my three children nap.
My old, white, vintage desk, my creative space, once held the proof of my flourishing business and life. The paint smudges, scribbled-down notes for upcoming posts, and the in-progress designs of my exciting ideas made me feel like a real artist, like I was spreading beauty and leaving my mark on the world.
But when days, weeks, months passed and I hadn’t spent any quality time at my old, white, vintage desk I began to panic.
My standard for measuring my contribution to the world, my usefulness to God, and my creative ingenuity had become directly related to how long I got to sit at my desk.
How silly it sounds to write it- limiting my creative outpouring and meaningful influence to sitting at my desk for long periods of time.
But it’s true, I felt God’s delight upon me most when I was wielding a brush across paper in the quiet hours between 3 and 5pm, or tapping out words and shaping sentences with my fingers, or forming fuzzy ideas into a tangible reality.
So I ask you… what is your old, white, vintage desk? The place you go, or the thing you do, to feel a sense of purpose and joy? What brings you the feeling that you are giving to the world and impacting others?
Now, the challenge for you and I is this…
What happens to us when we get up from the desk, push in the chair, and leave that kind of work for a moment, or a season, either unexpectedly or deliberately?
What happens to us when we don’t dip the paintbrushes into the water and spread the colors over the thick paper, or the project is delayed and the progress is slug slow, or our ingenious ideas simmer silently in a notebook somewhere gathering dust?
What happens to us when we fail to visit the places in our lives which represent productivity and impact, do we then feel void of purpose, meaning, or undesired by God and others?
I would hope not.
What I’ve been discovering, painfully discovering I might add, over the past few months is that there is an even greater place God is inviting me into…
More joy can be derived here, than from my writing or painting or a paycheck. More delight can be experienced here, than if I were designing a project to sell and share with others. More significance can be felt here, than if I were to hear a million praises from others.
No longer is my old, white, vintage white desk my designated creative, productive space- the place I go to for affirmation of my worth and evidence of my usefulness to God.
I’ve exchanged watercolor brushes for brush strokes of grace and forgiveness. I swirl them around in the deep colors of His presence and truth. A masterpiece slowly unfolds within my home and my relationships. The mixing and spreading is messy, all-consuming work, it takes time and intentionality, thoughtfulness and practice, but… this is the place.
I’ve exchanged my public-hope-to-be-published words for the quiet pep talks in my car with my fearful child. These words have the power to shape futures and identities, and breathe new life and hope into others. My mouth, when yielded to Him, a waterfall of the miraculous – things which are not seen come into existence through the carefully crafted words that flow from my lips, and I find…this is the place.
I’ve exchanged creative pursuits that take a few short weeks or months to finish for a lifetime of endless hard, yet innovative work- loving people. My greatest ideas, most profound dreams are those I hold inside me for children, my friends, the world. How dare I try to move towards completion, a mere checking of boxes, as if fragile human hearts are projects with deadlines, subjects to my selfish ambition. They are not. Instead I move in step with the Spirit of God, surrendering to His mysterious ways, and seeking to give myself intimately to others without looking for an easy return on my investment.
The truth is, our old, white, vintage desks are outdated. These proficient places can no longer represent the standard with which we use to judge our creativity or significance. Much to our surprise, the boundary lines are much broader when it comes to our best work.
And so the invitation from God goes out, “Will you push in your chairs, leave your paintings and your products, your passions and your good ideas and enter into your best, most beautiful work- your every day, sun-up to sun-down life? Give it your all and then some. See your very life, the dirt beneath your feet, as your place of divine purpose, the place of your greatest impact, and your most artistic and satisfying endeavor.”