In my last update that marked the one year anniversary of my art hiatus, I wanted to give an update that has nothing to do with any of that. I recently took another spiritual retreat. God often gives you just “the next step” in your journey, but after this weekend, I feel He decided to give me step twenty without telling me the other nineteen steps in between…
In regards to the art hiatus, it’s been fifteen months since I stopped creating art. I have no signals that I should jump back in, so for now it stays in limbo. In the meantime, my FRIK comic is coming onto its ten year anniversary. I hope to expand on that in another post.
The day before I left for this retreat, I downloaded the audio of a handful of church services that I missed over the summer. I left without a solid idea what I should be focusing on. Usually God makes it clear before I leave, but not this time. I left and fired up the mp3 player as I drove.
For the service I was listening to, this particular guest speaker, Jeff Henderson, talked about, “Ask, Seek, Knock.” In short, asking BOLD prayers and how it’s our responsibility to do so and often, and how it’s God’s responsibility to answer.
Here’s the thing, however…
That is not the file I originally queued up the day before.
I had selected another file that talked about “Rest”, which I thought was appropriate given where I was going. I know for a fact I selected that file and then shut the device down. So imagine my surprise when this other topic started up. For me this “coincidence” was enough to prove that God intended this subject to be the theme for my weekend.
An hour later I arrived at the retreat and thought about what I listened to. I figured out pretty early that asking bold prayers did not mean asking about creating art again. One lesson I’ve learned in this past year is it’s all about His glory, not mine, so this bold prayer had to be on the teaching side, NOT the art side. Remember his identity for me is “teacher”, not “artist”, which is what I’ve claimed since the age of eight and only recently figured out was not HIS identity for me.
The problem is, I have no idea what I should be praying for, much less BOLDLY praying for. My art classes are doing great and I’m so busy that I have to schedule things out 3-4 months in advance. I’ve been very blessed but it’s also been a tremendous amount of work. This retreat was my first solid three days off in months, and I really needed it. I prayed and said I had no idea what I should be boldly praying for and needed a hint.
Three hours after I arrived, the hint came, but it took me a long time to realize it.
A friend of mine from California sent me a text with a link for a building for sale in St. Louis about 20 minutes from where I live. She said, “This could make a great home/art studio/classroom.” I knew this place well and made a joke about how it’s $350k and twice the size of my house. As fast as the link came, I made my comments and told her I was putting the phone back down since I was at the retreat.
The rest of day one I contemplated bold prayers and not coming up with anything significant.
I woke up the next morning and was texting my wife. I sent her the link to this property and said, “And for some reason she sent me this…” and as soon as I hit send, it hit me. “Oh shit” I believe was the first words out of my mouth. I called my wife to explain about listening to the church service on the way down and how this seemingly random message about a building for sale is connected to it.
This month marks the four year anniversary of me officially jumping into teaching art classes as a career. Up to this point I’ve been a traveling nomad. I’ll teach classes all over town without a real “home base”, if you will. All the travel time and distance drains me after a while, but I also have no real overhead either, which is nice.
(Also a side note, my friend who sent that link to me? Not a Christian. Funny how God uses people in your life to send messages through, regardless if they believe in His existence or not.)
Hours after this revelation, I felt slightly overwhelmed by the whole turn of events. This is a daunting task. It feels like the equivalent of me living in the stone age being asked to build the space shuttle. I never seem to get the easy tasks from God. He threw me into teaching art classes with ZERO teaching experience or background, then this. On the one hand, I should be flattered that God thinks I can pull this off. On the other hand… *faints*
I am a very practical, logical type person, which is the flip side of my coin from also being an artist. The fact that steps 1-19 were omitted made my head spin. Not just from a logistical standpoint, but the fact that despite being super slammed with classes right now, my income only amounts to the equivalent of a full time minimum wage worker. We can’t live off of what I’m making right now, much less having ANY type of property debt added to it.
My wife eventually made me realize that the property shown to me wasn’t THE one, but was used to illustrate the point that one day there WILL be one. That also means, one of those baby steps in between would be to rent and not buy/own outright. Understanding that helps a tiny bit, but…
One of my exercises that day was to write out a chart of sorts that broke down all the logistics in what needed to happen to make this work. I have no doubt that this will happen. It is now in my future. When God tells you something will happen, it WILL happen, but there are a million details I have to figure out. First one being, how do I get from step one to step twenty.
You know, little stuff.
I’ll keep you posted as this progresses. Thanks for reading!