Joseph R. Myers is an entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and owner of FrontPorch, a consulting firm that helps churches, businesses, and other organizations promote and develop community. Author of The Search to Belong, Myers is also a founding partner of the communications arts group settingPace, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find out more about Joe at www.languageofbelonging.com
If I only had a purpose…
I’m driven. Ask anyone who knows me—I have an italic bent to my life.
But do I have a purpose? Does God have a purpose for me?
If he does he seems to be a little confused about it. I mean, why does he keep it so secret? Why is it so illusive that over 20 million bought a book to discover it?
If God has a purpose why does he make it so hard to find?
What if he doesn’t have a purpose, but instead has possibilities? What if God’s plan is emerging and fluid, not static and set? What if God’s plan is Organic Order and not a Master Plan?
Here is one illustration (that I also mention in Organic Community). When I was a boy, I started showing an interest in art. My parents often found me with pencil and paper, drawing anything and everything I could bring to mind. The front of the refrigerator door quickly filled with pieces I had completed.
I remember one Christmas in particular, when I had started to show a growing competency in art, my family encouraged me by giving me supplies and instructional books. The more presents I opened, the more excited I became.
My expectations ran high when we arrived at Grandma’s house. In her own way, my grandmother was an artist. Grandma would give me presents selected with the wisdom and insight of a fellow artist!
The first gift came. Brushes. Then the second: a large, rectangular box. I couldn’t suppress my excitement. This would be the gift that would set me on the path of Artist. I unwrapped that present like a starving dog devouring a bowl of food, all the while composing in my mind the wonderful acceptance speech I would give to honor this gift and my hopeful future.
There it was: a paint-by-numbers kit. I was shocked into silence.
Grandma kept looking at me as only grandmothers can, with eyes full of love and a voice full of tenderness: “Now you can paint beautiful paintings.”
Beautiful paintings! What did she think of the ones I had already done? Weren’t they beautiful? Weren’t they art? Her gift told me that, in her mind, I was no artist at all. I was just a little boy trying a new hobby. Maybe, if I could learn to follow somebody else’s plan, I could produce “beautiful paintings.”
It is not true that an artist is someone who manufactures art. An artist is someone who enables art to emerge from a canvas—someone who has the strengths, competencies, and patience to bring that miracle into being.
Art is not formulaic, like a paint-by-numbers kit. It has life. It is viewed and appreciated. It moves and inspires. It invites participation, mingling its own story with those of its observers.
God invites our artistic participation in life. He does not have a master plan—a paint-by-number experience waiting for you to discover. God invites you to paint your life and discover the masterpiece!