In an old brick building in Kansas City, Missouri, several stories above street level, is a place called the Kansas City Boiler Room. This is a 24/7 prayer community completely separate from IHOP, but inspired by some of the same visions. The people there engage with God in a variety of fresh, creative ways, making prayer an activity that far surpasses the way we usually think of it.
One of the resident artists is named Linnea Gabriella. Her paintings are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, beautiful chaos spun from a structured order. This is her way of discovering the beauty in detail and engaging with God.
Jake Hamilton, an amazing songwriter/worshiper and one of my favorite people on the planet, quoted Linnea as saying this:
“I don’t want to use my art to put You on display.
I want to use my art to
This is not to say that she doesn’t communicate through her art, but her primary purpose in painting is simply to pursue and encounter God.
I am an artist. Maybe not as talented or dedicated as Linnea, but a creative soul nonetheless. This statement really inspires me because this is exactly what I want to do. When I dance, it’s not for who’s watching. I’m naturally very self conscious about freestyle dancing in public (as anyone who has ever gone to a party with me can attest), but when I dance in worship to God all of that changes. It might make sense that I’d feel the most free in private, but actually I think there’s a special thing that happens when I dance in public, because I have to take a risk and push past that fear. Every single time. I dance solely to encounter God. I have literally felt Jesus step into my dance at one time and lead me, as the man is supposed to do in a partner dance. What was once a solo performance in his honor became a dance of intimacy with God. It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced.
I also do a lot of reading and writing, and I wonder how many Christian authors today take this idea to heart. Are they writing to encounter God, or to put him on a billboard? I definitely know one author who would fall under the first category. Ted Dekker‘s four “rules of writing,” or, as he is quick to point out, of living, are thus:
- Write to discover.
- There is no greater discovery than Love.
- All Love comes from the Creator.
- Write what you will.
It seems to me that living to know God will naturally overflow into making him known to others, very simply and organically. The people who inspire me the most do not inspire me because they stand on a platform and tell me about God; they live in a continuous encounter with God. And as I see that happening, I want it too.
Linnea says, “That’s why you don’t have to do paintings of Jesus on the cross at all times. When you are committed to him, all of your life is saturated with it, and to search your inner self you can see something new and real: you can literally smell the Kingdom of God. Once communicated, people will either love it or hate it.” (Quote here)
This is what I want my life and my art to be. I want my dance, prose, poetry, music, drawing, and even my fashion design to draw me closer into the heart of the original Artist who is wildly creative and infinitely more powerful than I could ever comprehend. Because somehow, when I create… I touch on something that other avenues never could. Sometimes it’s just a glimmer of the divine, sometimes it’s a full blown swim. Maybe it’s because I’m using my soul rather than my mind.
What I do know is this: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV
Eternity is placed in my heart. In my soul, in the place I cannot access with my mind alone. I want to use my art to chase God in that place that surpasses understanding.
Art isn’t my platform. Art is the language of my heart. And my heart longs for its Creator.