photo by everlyWhen I was a little girl, I told everyone that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. As I got older, I realized that my truer passion was writing. At that point, I decided I wanted to marry an artist when I grew up (that way, he could illustrate my books!).

Though I still loved doodling and dabbling and meandering through galleries, I forgot something about art as time passed. I knew that I still enjoyed it, but I had forgotten that it is important — vitally important. I had an attitude of, “Yes, art’s nice, but it’s a luxury.” Writing was more important than doodling, right? Writing could be about spreading truth and cultivating ideas and encouraging good things in our world. Art was just for fun.

But as we know, writing is an art. At least it should be. And if you’re still young at heart, you’ll know that a painting can share just as much truth as a sermon. Art is important, and I had almost forgotten that before I read Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking On Water.

When I saw the subtitle “reflections on faith and art”, I was immediately captivated. These were two things I had never paired together, yet have been struggling with and striving for all my life. My soul was in need of faith and art; I just hadn’t put it into words. L’Engle did so in her usual candid eloquence.

This book is not a how-to book complete with bullet lists of how to become a better Christian artist in five easy steps. This is a gentle (if not somewhat pleasantly rambling) collection of thoughts from a woman who was truly devoted to Christ and to glorifying Him through art. And art takes faith.photo by everly

“In the act of creativity, the artist lets go the self-control which he normally clings to and is open to riding the wind. Something almost always happens to startle us during the act of creating, but not unless we let go our adult intellectual control and become as open as little children.” (Madeleine L’Engle, Walking On Water, chapter 4)

Our God is the original, ultimate Artist. He is the only truly creative being because He’s the only One Who wasn’t created and Who created all else. We know that He is beautiful (Psalm 27:4) and believes in beauty. He is preparing a beautiful home for us in Heaven. We were wired for beauty and thus, art speaks to our souls. God created the flaming sunrise, the swirling tide, the lacy branches of an oak tree. He also created me. Isaiah 64:8 says that God is a potter and we are the work of His hands. He is gently but firmly molding us into what we were created to be; He loves His artwork.

Walking On Water is a quick read full of riches for any artist, whether your medium is oil paints, clay, computer keys, musical notes, dancing shoes or your own voice. L’Engle gives me the feeling of Elisabeth Elliot, C.S. Lewis and a walk down a tree-lined lane. Though it was written in a year before I was born, this gem of a book has proven to be timeless.

photo by everlyWalking On Water has encouraged me, both as an artist and as a follower of Christ — two roles that I’ll always see as closely connected from now on.

My faith in a loving Creator of the galaxies, so loving that the very hairs of my head are counted, is stronger in my work than in my life, and often it is the work that pulls me back from the precipice of faithlessness.” (Madeleine L’Engle, Walking On Water, chapter 9)

And isn’t that the most important thing? That everything we do pulls us nearer to the Lord?

I’d like to give a copy of Walking on Water to one of you.  To enter the giveaway, comment with your answers: Do you consider yourself an artist? How do you creatively point others to the Lord?

(Giveaway ends March 9.  Congratulations to Natalie for winning a copy!)

28 Comments

  1. I am not an artist at all! I hope that I point others to the Lord by being a compassionate listener and friend.

  2. Melissa M. says:

    This sounds like a good book; thanks for the giveaway! I do now consider myself an artist, though I’m a slow-going one, and need to practice more. I work with pencil and watercolors. Also like to write.

  3. Thank you! My middle name is Christine–so my name means Victorious Christian. I’m very happy with the name my parents gave me! 🙂
    Homeschooling is great! If/when I marry and have my own children one day I plan to homeschool. My dad & bro work at a homeschooling organization in the tech department and I love that they’re using their gifts for such a great cause!

  4. We all have a sense of creativity. I seek to creatively teach others, esp. children about God and His great love for us.

  5. While I’ve had a finger in various forms of art–drawing, dance, music, theater–writing is the one closest to my heart and the one I’m pursuing the most earnestly. I’ve wanted to read this book for a while and would love to win a copy–though there are so many wonderful artists commenting here, I kind of hope someone else gets it! Thank you for providing this wonderful review and opportunity.

    1. I love that you’ve dabbled in so many areas! Please continue to fearlessly watch for the Lord’s leading in your life. You never know how many gifts He might have in store for you!

  6. I love to write, and I also love art. I have begun to art journal and do collages and I think it’s wonderful. Sounds like a great book!

  7. I was raised in a large homeschooling family, and among my siblings I witnessed many different forms or expressions of artistry and creativity–my older sister can play just about any instrument within minutes of picking it up for the first time and also happens to be a prodigy when armed with a paintbrush or pencil. My older brother is a computer genius, my younger brother is very intelligent and gifted in mechanical things, my younger sister has the voice of an angel–and the list goes on.
    For years I struggled to see in me what I saw in them nearly every day: A gift. A passion. Talent.
    I felt as if somehow I’d been “skipped in the gift distribution factory in heaven.” I cried over the issue and poured my heart out to God time and time again. I wasn’t particularly smart, certainly didn’t feel creative, and wasn’t demonstrating any special talent or ability, unlike my siblings.
    Then, by God’s grace I was introduced to a medium altogether unfamiliar to me, but one which soon had me enthralled with its possibilities: the camera.
    Not an expensive one, but a simple, cheap camera. My parents, and really everyone I believe, was shocked. Technical particulars aside, I began composing images which expressed creativity and imagination. I surprised myself!
    People started noticing. After years of playing around with a cheap camera which was intended to be used for simple snapshots, a kind neighbor and another observant friend gave me two more “point-and-shoot” cameras. Then one day a friend who’d received a nicer camera as a gift offered me the use of his camera until I could save up enough to purchase my own. Armed with this camera I joined a photography group. At the group I met other photographers who offered their assistance, and one even offered me a position in her business as an assistant. I accepted the help, but declined the position. I did not even have my own camera! Before I was able to save up the necessary amount, however, my sister purchased for me the camera I’d been saving for and gave it to me as a gift.
    Photography has become more than simply an outlet for creativity. It has become my passion! I face new challenges with every shoot, and make many mistakes, but I’m overwhelmed with gratitude to my Lord for revealing in HIS time the gifts that He’d assigned me.

    I believe that even the simplest photographs can tell a story. Whether it is expressed through a tear in a subject’s eye, the beauty of a rose or the innocence of a sleeping babe, photography presents the potential to bring glory to the Divine Designer and Author of creativity. It has the potential to bring awareness to the needs of the world, and to inspire the passive and indifferent life to one of passion and enterprise.

    I encourage you who are reading this, just because you’ve not discovered your gifts, or are not yet aware of them, does not mean that you possess none. God, in His perfect timing, will reveal them to you. He does not ask you to serve Him with everything you think you don’t have, but with what you know you do. And as you serve, you might just be amazed with the gifts you see emerge in your life. We ourselves do not deserve credit for the gifts we possess, but the Creator–whose Spirit within gives us the ability to do wonderful things and to express true creativity–is the One deserving of all glory and honor. Blessings to you all!

    1. Victoria,
      Beautiful name, beautiful comment. Thank you for sharing. I come from a large, home-schooling family as well and understand this struggle. We are all so different, there are times when we feel like our portions were “dished out unevenly.”

      This is a wonderful testimony as far as God-given gifts, but I also love that it is a testimony of home-schooling. Isn’t it a wonder how home-educated children seem to be able to find their gifts and talents in their own time? I think that’s beautiful.

      Thank you!

  8. I struggle with art. I love art: music, writing and visual arts. I am a creative thinker and art makes my soul soar. But like the author, I repress my love because it seems selfish or lesser than productive things. There are always dishes to do, laundry to fold, something to clean. Dare I let that go & take time to blog or sketch?

    1. Mary Ann,
      I completely understand these questions, even if I don’t have a husband and children to care for. I would venture to say that you are an artist whether you’re standing at an easel or not.

      First of all, anything and everything you do can be art. Anything done to God’s glory is worship and art is worship. You can be artistic in most everything you try your hand at.

      Second of all, I struggle with valuing my art, but I’m finally learning that if it is a gift from God, I am being asked to cultivate it. To refuse to cultivate my art is to say, “No God, doing the dishes is really more important than the gift you gave me. Maybe I’ll sketch after I get a little more laundry done. Maybe I’ll be an artist when I’m done with ____.”

      Of course, drawing is NOT more important than giving your children attention, but just as God has given you your children as a gift, He’s given you passions and talents as gifts as well. Steward well, my sister!

  9. Writing and helping others is my passion.
    I’m studying to be an English teacher and a nurse so I can use these talents for God’s glory.

  10. I consider myself as an artist in the making as I probably will be all my life, for there is always room for improvement in everything. Writing is a passion, music is a passion, photography, design and other things are the arts I’m striving to be an artist at. I long to honor and glorify God in all do.

  11. Hmm, I know others have considered me an artist in one way or another but I’m still learning to see myself that way. My form of artistry is photography. I love to do landscapes, flowers, and babies!

    As far as pointing others to the Lord… He has given me the talents to do what I can do. He has created me.The photos I take are all reflections of His handiwork, His creations. And thus my name-Joyful Reflections. All Glory to Him!

  12. Do I consider myself an artist? Not much at this stage of my life. I have been a musician – I find it easier to interpret and express a composer’s thoughts than to create from nothing. That quotation about letting go of control was fascinating – that’s probably why I often find creativity so difficult! Though right now I’m busy singing lullabies, one of my passions is to help other Christians realize how much God cares about art. It’s not something we do just because we enjoy it, but because God enjoys it, since all true beauty is a reflection of His own character. I would love to read this book, as I am on a continual journey of learning how art is all about God.

    1. Evelyn,
      I’d venture to say that you are an artist, even if you feel that the artist in you is hibernating for a Winter season.

      As you say, all art is about God. Art is worship and anything done to His glory is worship, is all worship art? Perhaps. Singing lullabies definitely qualifies in my book…

  13. My passion is for the beauty of nature, My inspiration is God, and the method I use is chalk pastels. I have always had an awe for the beauty and creativity of God’s creation, hence most of my pictures are of nature. I learned from my great uncle that every picture has the potential to point others to Christ. So with my signature I put the reference of a scripture that I feel the painting describes.
    I know that in myself there is no creativity, so when anyone praises my paintings all I can say is, “Praise the Lord. He’s the one who has blessed me with this ability.”
    Honoring Him with my art is the least I can do!

  14. As a keyboard artist, I have a three-fold goal in all my musical indeavors: glorify God, bless others, and enrich myself. When I was thirteen I surendered my life to the Lord and he called me to serve him with music. Since then I have strived to use my talents to point to my Savior. Sometimes this means teaching my students with a Christ-like attitude, playing a worshipful offertory, or simply praising God as I practice piano.

    1. So appreciate your goals for your musical talent, Natalie!

      And guess what? You’re Comment #7, selected by Random.org as the winner of “Walking on Water”!

  15. I fit into the musician artist category. Painting sound pictures and teaching students well is my job. As I serve in church, my goal is to accurately convey the message of the hymn through music. As I teach my students, pointing toward Christ becomes much bigger as they observe my words, actions, and policies.

  16. Lydia Borengasser says:

    I would love to read this book!
    I definitely consider myself an artist…a musician counts for that, right? 🙂 As a “full-time” pianist, it is my greatest desire to point others to the Lord through the music I play. As a piano teacher of 25, it is my greatest desire to lead these students to love the Lord, to praise Him through music, and to give Him glory through their own playing.

  17. What a lovely sounding book! I would love to read it.

    I would definitely consider myself an artist. I’m a writer, and words and phrases are printed art. I believe that all art should point back to Christ. My aspiration would be to have everything I write, no matter how humorous or trite, lead the reader back to Christ. I haven’t reached that point yet, it’s something I need to keep working on.

    BTW, just “discovered” this site, it’s wonderful! I’ll definitely keep reading! 🙂

  18. I consider myself an artist… a writer who paints pictures with words. There’s nothing that doesn’t give me a creative urge like a blank computer screen. 🙂

  19. I’m not entering the giveaway, Evely, but I just want to say thank you for writing such a lovely review. I’ve seen “Walking on Water” a number of times on blogs and Amazon. It sounds inspiring and I think I’m going to add it to my wishlist! 🙂

    It’s funny, isn’t it, how in the bustle of adulthood we’re tempted to leave art behind in childhood. I’ve been reminding myself for a few months that art is important at any age – pictures in a gallery, photograhs in a book, music, ballet, books … art has the potential to reflect heaven.

    Thank you for the reminder to keep my own “art” reflecting heaven.

  20. I love reviews 🙂 Another one added to my list 🙂 I do not comment for the giveaway as I live in Belgium, but once I awhile I order a bunch of books if someone I know is visiting in the US. So I always have a scrap of paper with my list of ‘wanted’ books.

    I am so thankful for the gift of creativity that God put in all of us. In one way or another, we all are, I believe;
    My artistic-ness is in making greeting cards, and I am very excited to be opening my own webshop soon. (Very handy to have an IT husband that can build websites for his wife ;)) And I am right now designing some cards with texts on them, and upbuilding quotes.

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