I've been spending time with some artists lately and heard one of them describe his art as a pursuit and a longing. He said that he used to think he could write a song that would sum it all up, ending the pursuit and satisfying some sort of lack in his life; but later he realized that this would never be the case, and that life would be a never ending pursuit of satiating this nondescript longing.
As an artist myself, I can relate. I have an overwhelming desire to write, tell stories, make music and shoot movies; so much so that any free moment needs to be filled with one of those pursuits. What's worse, is that the ideas keep coming, but the time to flesh them out is rarely there, and so I'm left with a constant feeling that I'm behind and may never catch up. So what would happen if I never told all of those stories, or wrote all of those songs? Would the world be any worse without my art? Would I be any better or worse of a person because of it? Or is all of this just a distraction?
As I listen to men speak about longings, and follow pursuits on paths such as these (or even more "noble" endeavors, like child rearing or finding a spouse), I can't help but think that we're all just looking for Jesus.
There is a longing inside all of us, a God-shaped hole as Audio Adrenaline put it:
Scripture reveals this to us as well:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
- Ecclesiastes 3:11
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you."
- Hebrews 13:5
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
- Matthew 6:33
Only God satisfies. So why do we endeavor so hard after anything but God? I think the answer is that, when we create, we are acting like God. He is the ultimate Creator, and I would argue my truest moments of creativity come about from God. I've tried writing songs and stories on what was clearly my own volition, and they usually are empty. And then there are times when the words fall from the sky and spill onto the page, as if God lassoed me with some sort of inspirational conduit and shot sparks of creativity into my being. Ask any artist, Christian or not, and he or she will tell you about this experience.
The same applies to fatherhood or serving others...in these cases that seem to provide some sort of satisfaction for our souls, it is because we are acting like God. God is a Father. God sacrificed Himself for us. When we perform these acts, we are imitating our Father, and it feels good.
A beautiful album by All Sons & Daughters.
But will it ever totally satisfy? Is there such a thing as complete satisfaction? The bible speaks of the "fullness of Christ Jesus" -- how does this come about?
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
- Colossians 2:9-10
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
- Ephesians 3:16-19
According to that second verse, we are strengthened with power through the Spirit, so Christ can dwell in our hearts. Then, with a foundation of love, we will have the power to understand how deep Christ's love is, which ends up filling us with the fulness of God. There are a couple key ingredients: love and power through the Holy Spirit.
So if we want to satiate that longing, and attain the fullness of God, we must have Christ dwell within us in love, and ask God for power to understand His love more deeply. It all begins and ends with Christ's love. These verses sum it up well:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
- 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I write a song that will move hearts...if I paint a picture that will inspire the masses...if I write a piece that alters the course of history...if I create anything, and have not love, it is only a noisy distraction from the true longing of all our hearts, which is Christ.