I am a huge fan of a great many things. It’s hard to keep up actually. As long as I can remember, I’ve had a love for creative arts. This led to an early decision that I’d make a career out of graphic design (because being a Disney animator, like I originally, wanted was not going to happen). So, in between garage bands, and fixing up computers, I applied my love of art to the digital medium.
I think this is where my love of projects began.
Projects have been a reoccurring theme in my life. They have helped me express myself – who I am. Projects also helped me cope with trauma. I’ve always been a Christian, but had serious questioning as a teenager, but I’ve only just realized that projects have taken all my creativity and energy, instead of giving them to God. I think, though, God had all of this in mind as apart of His plan for me.
You see, I had to take a walk in the tall grass to come back to Him broken and in desperate need for his love, grace and mercy.
I’m blessed to say I grew up happy, but my formative years were spent in a broken home. When my parents divorced it was like I was hit by a truck. Moving to another state with a new school and zero friends, it was definitely hard for this 14 year old. Also, this public school enforced a mandatory uniform dress policy. I think this helped ease me into my punk rock sentiments, among other things.
How on earth would I deal with this? Video games. Skateboarding. And a screaming garage band, that, at the time, sincerely denied they were an emo band, but was, in fact, an emo band. I had a lot of fun in those projects of mine. Video games helped me not think about the trauma in my life – the divorce or being a single parent in my college years. The skateboarding got me out of the house and with other friends. And playing in a band at venues and house parties was amazing fun. All the attention was on me and my band mates as I sang about a girl who broke my heart (like I said, an emo band).
Later in my life I would align all this creativity and energy into the professional world. Now, here’s where I leave my other projects behind to focus on design. But you know, the barometer to my happiness relied heavily on the type of job I had. This. Is. One. Of. The. Worst. Things. A. Christian. Can. Do. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of things you can do that are worse, but in regards to a good quality of life, this will sink you so freaking fast.
I came to realize our jobs are a blessing and we should be thankful for them.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” – Colossians 3:23
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:11
And we shouldn’t find our self worth in them.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:17
“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” – Galatians 3:26
I know for a fact I have an obsessive personality. I’m too eager to go 110% into whatever I choose to. With video games, sunk many hours to level up characters that had no impact on my life (except during leisure time). I’ve since found that books offer a much better form of “escape” for me. I can only read for so long, instead of staying up until the wee hours of the morning.
With skateboarding I bought the nice decks and sweet wheels and spent a lot of hours practicing and bruising myself. With my bands I spent a lot of nights rehearsing and writing material for it. My graphic design career and freelancing gigs, all late nights and never placed me in Silicon Valley. Ultimately, my projects never really delivered me to where I wanted them to take me. But that’s ok – God gifted me with talents to be where He wants me to be. I’ve finally learned to be content with that, but I am getting ahead of myself here…
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” – Philippians 4:12 (Really love this, Paul knocks it out of the park here in Philippians)
Spoiler alert….none of my past projects gave me what I wanted. Actually, they gave me what I wanted, but they didn’t give me what I needed. God knew what I needed and it was Him all along.
Please, don’t hear me saying don’t chase your dreams and run to God. Actually, run to God first then chase your God given dreams with your God given talents to further his kingdom and serve one another. Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to say…
I wanted to come clean to you all and just say I love projects. And it’s one of the sins I struggle with. It’s an idol of mine. I’ve always turned to a project instead of going to God.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.
Seriously, this verse is huge. We Christians have a heavenly Father, creator of the universe and all things, who wants a relationship with us. Why shouldn’t we take God up on this?
All we have to do is drop the act and go to Him. We have to die to ourselves and allow God to work us. This, of course, requires to drop the pride, greed and lust for a life that is not your own. I call this “the great rewiring of ‘self'”. God has to reconfigure the mess you’ve made inside your heart and head.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
I still wrestle with the fact that God loves me so much, this colossal being who is the author and finisher of all things, that he gave his only begotten Son to pay a penalty I couldn’t. Christ died a death that had my name on it. I give thanks and praise for that fact so that I may spend an eternity praising Him for his act of love and compassion.
What right do I have, as a Christian, to turn to other projects or hobbies when God wants me to go to Him? He wants me to complain to Him, he wants me to boast (in Him), He wants me to ask Him of small and of great things. He is my Abba Father and I need reminded of that every day.
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'” – Romans 8:15
One of my favorite quotes is C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity talking about the importance of feeding your faith:
“That is why daily praying and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.”
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
To sum all this up, projects can distract us from a relationship with God. Hindsight is 20/20, but I see so many seasons in my life that I was distracted. How many people could I have shared the gospel with? What sort of witness was I revealing to those who needed Christ’s love the most in my life? I can’t beat myself up, because it’s not my job to save souls – that job belongs to the Holy Spirit. We Christians can only plant seeds and pray that God moves people to Him.
I said earlier, that I think God was refining me this entire time. He allowed me to wander and look for love, acceptance, happiness and my identity – only to be left wanting. I eventually made it out of the woods and got back on a better track for my life. I’m incredibly grateful for all His blessings, too. What separates me from the old Brett is that I’m mindful of my desire to fix myself with distractions, when I should to go to Him instead.
What gifts or talents do you have that could help further God’s kingdom? Are you using them? Are you afraid to use them for His glorification? If so, why? I’m speaking to Christians, specifically here: If you’ve accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, what on Earth could stop you from sharing your love for Christ and his kingdom? After all, He first loved you so you could love. This hypes me up beyond comprehension! I pray that you get excited about your Abba Father, and turn to Him in the valleys and the peaks, and that you use your God given gifts to serve one another and glorify His name.
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:6-8
In closing, I am excited about this new project of mine. Yes, this project – the one you’re reading right now. My previous projects have helped shaped me and I wouldn’t changed a thing. Now, I’m embarking in my spiritual growth and sanctification into the man God wants me to be.
Full disclosure: I’m going to fail, folks. I’m going to be the worst kind of person to speak of the power, majesty and depth of God. However, I would rather fail at praising God than to fail at serving myself. I pray this has somehow encouraged you all to do the same.
“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11