The Creative Call: An Artist's Response to the Way of the SpiritThe Creative Call: An Artist's Response to the Way of the Spirit
Janice Elsheimer
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Our creativity was meant to be used. Whether you are an artist who has already identified your gifts or you have artistic talent that has never developed, The Creative Call will help you grow closer to becoming the person God designed you to be.

This practical and insightful workbook has eight weeks of material plus a ninth-week retreat guide for individual or group use. Here you will further recognize and develop your creativity as you enter a closer relationship with your creator.

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When I was young, I found a kind of salvation in two forms of creative expression: writing and playing the piano. From the time I was seven or eight years old, I kept diaries and poured into them all the wondering and confusion of childhood and adolescence. Teachers and parents said I had a gift for writing and a talent for music, and even as a child I felt that these gifts were from God, that they were not just something he gave to me but something that came through me. When the music seemed to move beyond me, or when my writing produced just the right effect, I felt uplifted, light, complete.

Playing by Heart

I recall memorizing Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” for a recital when I was nine. That hauntingly beautiful music taught me why learning a piece by memory as called learning it by heart: Only after I had committed a piece to memory was I free to explore the emotions elicited by the music. Until I knew a piece by heart, I could not put expression into it, expression that came from my heart, that breathed life into the notes and turned my playing from an exercise to an art. I often wondered how my friends who didn’t have music or writing in their lives handled their deep feelings. What did they do “by heart”?

Years later, however, when I began to make college and career decisions, it didn’t occur to me to major in English, journalism, or musical performance, even though those were the areas of my greatest talents. I decided on music education after being advised that very few women pianists had ever risen to the top in the world of musical performance. Teaching was the only sure way to make a living with music. Caution and fear of failure kept me from believing I could become a professional musician. It did not occur to me at the time to ask God to reveal his vision for my life. On my own, following my head rather than my heart, I chose the safe path.

In my sophomore year, I switched my major to English education, still choosing to teach what I loved to do: read and write. I discarded thoughts of majoring in pure English or journalism as too risky. What I thought I wanted most (besides to change the world and get us out of Vietnam) was to become financially secure. Even though my father has a great deal of artistic ability, eternal optimism, and an entrepreneurial spirit, he never tried to make a living as an artist. Still, he demonstrated often enough that risk taking can result in a life of financial uncertainty. I might not get rich teaching, I reasoned, but at least I would have job security.

At the age of twenty-three, I embarked on a career as an educator that allowed me to reach every grade level from elementary school through college. I enjoy a sense of pride and satisfaction when I reflect on those years of using my creativity and love of language to touch the lives of so many others. Still, no matter how successful a teacher I may have been, I always had a feeling God wanted more from me. Maybe, I began to think, he wanted me to quit hiding the light of my talents under the basket of security I had woven for myself. Maybe I needed to start letting those talents shine beyond the comfortable confines of my study and my music room. Thoughts like that led me to start teaching part time and to begin to spend some serious focused time on becoming a writer.

To whom much is given, from him much will be required(Luke 12:48). Creative people know that not only are they missing something important when they aren’t exercising their creative gifts, but they are also shrinking from the responsibility they have to develop those gifts. In the years in which the piano sat untouched and the only writing I did was when I wrote letters, journal entries, or comments on my students’ essays, I experienced a nagging sense of sadness, and yes, guilt. And although this boo is not about acting on our talents out of guilt, I believe there is a reason many of us feel guilty when we aren’t practicing our art. If God has given us the gift of creativity, “much is required” in the way of our using it to his glory.

from The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer