This was one of the first blog I wrote when I started interning at Northstar Church as Creative Writing Director. It deals with the idea of patience, balance and the reaping of artistic return. I wrote it when Writer’s Gallery (our monthly open-mic night for writers) was still a fledgling group of less than 10 artists. Tuesday (close to a year later) Writer’s Gallery hosted 40-50 diverse literary enthusiasts. I’m so happy to say that. Keep all this in mind as you listen to a younger me talk about his hopes and fears below.
I read something in Romans 1 last week that gave me a great deal of clarity about Christians (in particular artists who are Christians) experiencing a return for their efforts and not feeling like sellouts for it. That’s always been a huge hurdle for me (whether it’s in art, tithing, volunteering or what-have-you). In this particular passage, Paul was being held up by time and circumstances. He wanted to be in Rome, his fatherland, right then, but he was experiencing a crisis of patience. He says in his letter to the church there, “The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes!” Romans 1:11
We all experience impatience. It’s nothing new. Here’s the bit that I think we battle with even more, especially as artists: accepting the personal gain that comes at the end. He goes on to say in verse 12, “But don’t think I’m not expecting to get something out of this, too! […] I’ve been determined to get some personal enjoyment out of God’s work among you.” My most immediate responsibility, as of late, has been to organize and host the Writer’s Gallery events every third Tuesday of the month. It’s such a slow-brewing process, but I’m thinking about it all month because I want so desperately to see it revive words in this community and be this city’s premiere literary forum.
The patience issue is undoubtedly there, but this constant, nagging feeling of needing to withdraw myself from the thought of reward is even more prominent. It’s a thing of growth and balance. God sees people being drawn to him through an expression that He created. I see people becoming better writers and growing in a love and appreciation for their craft. Is there anything wrong with this? No. It makes God God and me me. I can only hope that as time goes on, our visions inevitably become more and more aligned. Paul learned to both control his impatience as well as accept the rewards as he says, “…we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue” (Romans 5:3-4). It’s a simple concept, I think, but it’s something I don’t mind being reassured of; that patience wins and it’s ok to reap the rewards.