Before I can talk about Saturday, Day 3 I need to make a confession. I am a failed Dreamer! That’s right, I found a Dream and tried to follow it to the rainbow’s end and ended up in the deepest, darkest shadow of depression of my life.
In 1992 my pastor asked me to form a drama ministry at our church. I am a physician, but I love to write and had discovered a love for writing plays. But, to run a drama ministry? All he required was that everything we performed had to be original and had to be written by yours truly. After much prayer and soul searching, I accepted the assignment.
In November, 1994 the ministry was going so well I branched out to fulfill my Dream. I wanted to be a Walt Disney of inspirational entertainment. I formed the Foundation of Inspirational Arts with six board members and a mission to help churches form drama teams, perform drama, make film, establish original music groups, and to publish inspirational material. I was on the way to fulfilling my DREAM! Yay!
In September, 1995 it all went away. Not suddenly. But slowly, painfully, achingly it died. Truthfully it had died months before and what was left was a festering corpse. It ended with a bang, a large regional state drama festival organized by the FIA. But, by then I was being assailed by demands from my board; some wanting to be higher in the hierarchy; some wanting to know just what the heck we were doing; some questioning my DREAM.
On a cool September Sunday evening, one of my best friends (our music minister) called and we had a heated exchange over the singing group we had formed. His words were piercing; painful; deflating. Couldn’t he see just how, how cool the FIA was? But, his words carried the sting of truth. The FIA was dead and I was a failure.
I love to snow ski. It was like this. I was standing at the top of Aspen mountain facing two feet of fresh powder exhilerated to be at the top of the world. Suddenly, the snow beneath me shifted and I started sliding slowly down hill. I tried to maintain control and realized as snowballs formed ahead of me and cracks appeared in the pristine snow that I was atop an avalanche. No problem. I’ll just ride it down. My legs began to wobble and my balance was askew and now, I’m hanging on for dear life, trying to keep my ski tips above the snow as it tumbled faster and faster beneath me and then it happened. I fell and the snow pummeled me like a set of icy fists. My skis popped off. My goggles flew away. There went my hat, my gloves and now, I’m just hoping I survive this, that I was alive when the tumbling and the pummeling and the pain stopped. I found myself at the bottom of the mountain in a dark valley bruised, broken, all of my equipment scattered up the mountain. That is what happened that night and I found myself prone in the middle of my bedroom floor sobbing uncontrollably. My DREAM was gone! Perished! My hands were empty. I still had my family and I still had my job. But compared to my DREAM?
I descended into a deep dark depression and I talk about it in these posts. Basically what God taught me was this: I had held up my DREAM to God and asked Him to bless it. I was saying, “Hey, God, here is the great idea I had and you’re going to like it and you’re going to bless it. Aren’t you lucky to have me on your side?” But, God was saying, “Bruce, I have a work for you to do and until you turn loose of your dream and empty your heart and your hands and your mind, I cannot use you.”
And so, when Phil Vischer began speaking on Saturday night about his monumental “failure” with Veggie Tales I was nodding my head in understanding so much, I had a spasm. Here was a similar story to mine, although on a much, much larger scale. But, God had shown Phil the same thing he showed me. Your DREAM can become your god. Here is what I learned in a nutshell: “Bruce, you have to learn how to say NO to the good ideas, so you can say YES to the God ideas.” I learned to ask God every morning, “Lord what work do you want me to do for you today. Show me. I am ready.”
I know that what Phil had to say was very painful for many of the Hutchmoot attendees. How can you be an artist without a dream? How can you operate without a vision, a mission, a plan of action? I don’t think that is what Phil meant but that is what many people took away. I think the best way to think of what Phil said is this:
We are made in God’s image. God is the Creator. He has made us to be creative. Creativity comes from His inspiration and soon we visualize the end product of that inspiration. In American parlance, it is a DREAM. In reality, it is God’s inspiration for the work He wants us to do. It is the work of God’s hands that yielded the universe. And, it will be the work of our hands that fulfills God’s inspiration in us. The DREAM can become an idol. But, when we remember that the inspiration flows from God, we walk with God; we worship God; we keep God between us and the final product. We can only be creative for God when we are sitting at the foot of the cross, not on Pilate’s porch!
Say NO to Good Ideas
So You can
Say YES to God Ideas!
This concept really hit home with me that night. As I said earlier, just two days before I had seen one of my DREAMS die when a five book contract was taken away. But, God had already laid his work for me right in my path. I literally ran head on into it at the International Christian Retail Show. And here is a truth. If we are paying close attention to God, the path we need to walk; the work we need to do; the creating we need to unleash will be placed right in our way. But, we only see that truth if we are walking daily with the Truth, the Life, and the Way. Just as no man can come to Father except through Jesus, no artist can create a living canvas that reflects the love of God unless we come to that THROUGH Christ. I can do all things I DREAM of? No, I can do all things that are my wonderful IDEAS? No, I can do all things THROUGH Christ! I can’t do things THROUGH Christ unless Christ is right there in front of me; continually; always; living; breathing the breath of creativity into my nostrils.
Thank you, Phil for your painful honesty. It is something we all need to hear. I’ll have a few last minute details on my last post about Hutchmoot 2012 tomorrow. But, for today, look for the God ideas instead of the good ideas!