Posted 17 Sep 2010
There are many, many projects & potential ideas floating around my head at the moment. I am used to having creative ideas in my head – & I delight in that… no problem there! But currently I am having to think about marketing, promotion, merchandise designs & website alterations & improvements, & it is these things which are causing me trepidation & anxiety.
There is a church members meeting looming, where I report on my progress & I now realise just how much anxiety that generates within me. Accountability is a good thing, because it keeps me on track & focused on my productivity, but when it starts to cause me anxiety then it is no longer helpful or right.
There is the urgency of Christmas, & fast vanishing time to come up with new designs for that event. I don’t want to “miss the boat”!
There is the idea of creating merchandise (mugs, calendars, T-shirts, etc) & how best to promote them.
Then there is the whole idea of how best to market & promote the Bible Cartoons Project (BCP.) Should I employ a Christian marketing company to promote the cartoons? I could attend the Christian Resources Exhibition in October, because it may help me to promote the Bible Cartoons Project, but is it right to do that? There is great uncertainty about the best way to proceed with marketing the BCP, & whatever we decide to do, it will cost us money. I get really worried about “wasting” money, but they say you have to speculate to accumulate… is that a good Christian concept, or merely man’s idea?
There are just so many things that require my attention. It all feels so overwhelming, because it all “shouts” at me, demanding to be accomplished right now. It is not the drawing & creativity that causes me anxiety. The anxiety comes from the need to market & promote the cartoons & website. It feels like I am standing before a huge sea wave, that gets taller & taller as it fast approaches me on the beach. I look at all the things I feel I “must do now” & they all combine to be that huge wall of water: a force of busyness that threatens to swamp me.
Today I read Isaiah 26:12 (NLT), ‘LORD, you will grant us peace, for all we have accomplished is really from you.’
What does this scripture mean to me, today? I realise just how anxious & uptight I have become, due to busyness, with plans & activities that I have on my mind. I needed to read this truth in Isaiah 26:12, which is from God. It is no coincidence that today I read this scripture.
We all tend to think that it is us who does the work, & in one sense it is us who physically do jobs & tasks… & draw cartoons! But since it is God who has given us bodies, strength, a brain to think with, our imagination, our personality, etc, then truly we can say that it is God who accomplishes all that actually we do. For me, the creative tendency; the desire to draw cartoons; the hand-eye co-ordination, even the cartoon ideas, all come from God. My very life is a gift from God. It all comes from him. When I acknowledge my complete dependence on God, even for the breath I breathe, then I will have the peace that comes from God, for truly it is God who is accomplishing things through me, & not me, independently of God. So the Isaiah text is true.
An example of creative ideas that actually come from God, not me
Yesterday God gave me an idea for a mug design: a person with stacks of lists & plans, from Isaiah 22:11, ‘But all your feverish plans are to no avail because you never ask God for help.’
Only a few minutes ago, God gave me an idea for another mug design: a little bedraggled bird on a twig, in a rain storm – based on Isaiah 25:4, ‘But to the poor, O LORD, you are a refuge from the storm.’
Both of these ideas came when I really needed mug design ideas! That is no coincidence. God provided the very ideas I needed, when I needed them. How faithful is our God!
Is there also a message from God, for me, in these ideas? Is God trying to get my attention with these scriptures? I do ask God for help, but I often “just get on with it” myself, thinking that it is my job to “do the doing.” Of course, it is my job to do the physical tasks, but I am not called to do that independently of God. He wants to be involved in my life (& yours, as well!), as any good friend would want to be. God can advise me, & seeks to do so, as a good friend would. But it is up to me to listen to my friend, & not to ignore him! I think that my current anxiety is a product of not taking my concerns & worries to God, & seeking his wisdom in solving them.
The cartoon drawing is not the problem
The real cause of my anxiety is not the drawing. It is never the artwork itself. I feel calm, unhurried, & full of confidence & security when I draw & colour the cartoons. Drawing has always made me feel relaxed & hopeful. I forget my troubles when I am designing & drawing. If you are familiar with Betty Edwards book “Drawing on the right side of the brain” then you will know that creative activity is a right brain hemisphere thing. The right brain hemisphere is non-vocal, non-linguistic, has no concept of time, which is why it is so peaceful for me!
The phrase “coming home” is perhaps the closest description of what it feels like for me, when I draw. I have always associated the word “home” with feelings of security, safeness, comfort, peace, belonging, & a place where I can just be myself; it is ok to just be me, here at “home.”
It is when I feel “at home” that my anxieties & troubling thoughts recede & evaporate.
The cause of the anxiety
But all the marketing & promotional stuff requires left-brain thinking, which is another matter entirely. Left brain function is where logic, time-awareness, vocal & language skills are. The left brain, logical reasoning is where my self-reliance exists, & where the tendency to leave God out of my life comes from. Logical reasoning that leaves no room for God; self-reliance & self-generated lifestyle; thinking that I have to solve all my problems myself, without God, & that I am only a “real man” if I solve them myself, without God’s wisdom & help, is what causes me anxiety. This fact should not surprise me, really, as self-reliance is the sin of pride. Pride does indeed isolate me from God, & it is at this point that the spirit within me (the Holy Spirit) cries out to me, not to ignore God & that I am in danger of pride. The Holy Spirit is reminding me that I am trying to live my life independently of God, his wisdom & power.
I know God knows this about me. Of course he does, he designed me to be this way: to live dependently on him. That is what true relationship between God & man is all about! What is startling, therefore, is the tendency of us Christians to even try to live independently of God! But there is a reason for that tendency…
The tendency to leave God out of our lives, is a response to the lies of our enemy, Satan (the Devil) who’s own sin was pride: the desire to live independently of God & to usurp God with himself. I think it is Satan who has quietly been feeding me the lie that I must solve all my marketing & promotional issues myself, independently of God. In effect he has been saying, “You don’t really need God to help you solve those marketing problems… you ought to do that for yourself. A real man would know what to do… you want to be a real man, don’t you? What will people think if you flounder & fail to promote the Bible Cartoon Project properly? They’ll think you’re weak & useless, & that you can’t do it. Go on, find the solutions yourself, that’s what real men do. Take charge of the Bible Cartoon Project. It’s your idea & your work, not God’s. You don’t need God to solve your problems for you – that’s just weakness.”
These are the tiny, almost unconscious thoughts that drift into my brain. But as I type them out, I can see that I have been thinking these things.
I have accepted the lie from Satan, that I am supposed to solve all my BCP marketing & promotion issues myself, without referring to God & his wisdom. Within that lie is the lie that I am not even supposed to mention these things to God, or else I will not be truly solving my problems for myself; or that God expects me to solve all my problems independently of him.
The lie continues: “if you solve all of your BCP marketing & promotional issues yourself, then you will be doing well.” Satan even suggests that I ought to do this, so that God will be proud of me. That is an insidious & highly Martin-focused lie, since I want to be accepted & understood by the father-figure of God.
But the truth is, as a Christian, I already am!
I don’t need to gain the acceptance of my Father God, but Satan uses lies to try to decieve me into thinking that I do. I don’t have to perform well, in order to gain the approval of my Father God. My Father God already completely accepts me, just as I am. I do not have to get the BCP marketing & promotion right, or even do it all on my own, in order to get God’s approval.
The truth is, I don’t know what to do in order to promote & market BCP… & I do need God’s help! I am no less a “real man” for needing God’s help either. Satan is trying to get me to work independently of God & that is wrong. It can never work… ever. In fast, any activity that does not involve God is called idolatry!
I am not independent of God. Nor do I want to be, when I think about it. All of God’s incredible wisdom, power, & authority has been given to me (& you, if you are a Christian)… so why would I want to operate independently of God? It doesn’t make sense. But Satan wants us to live our lives that way… to short-cicuit our faith, & isolate us from God & from each other.
“Forgive me Lord Jesus for trying to market & promote this Bible Cartoon Project independently of you & your wisdom. I can see now that this is an error in my beliefs & that I have been listening to, & accepting, Satan’s lies. I repent of my independent attitude, where I have been trying to market & promote the Bible Cartoon Project without thinking about you & your wishes.
Help me dear Lord Jesus, at the beginning of every day to dedicate my life & my work, to you. When I begin a new phase or new project in this Bible Cartoon Project, help me through your Holy Spirit to remember that I am your servant. I particularly ask you to help me with the marketing & promotion of this Bible Cartoon Project, in ways that will bring me closer to you, & in ways that help me understand & accept my complete dependence on you, my Heavenly Father.
I choose to dedicate my life & life’s work to you. I want this Bible Cartoon Project to bring you glory & honour. Use it, & me, I pray, to help to bring your Kingdom to earth & to bring glory & honour to you.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
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