by Anna Holowinsky
It was the summer of 2016. I stumbled upon a creative community in Charlottesville, VA, and within that space, I met a friend named Richard. Richard was a word artist. I had never heard of word art before, but I knew after rubbing shoulders with this man for an entire summer, he had something to prove to the world with the work he created. His work, it spoke to me. His passion for the creative process spoke volumes, too. It was almost as if his spiritual life was enlivened by the work he did. It wasn’t really about creating for the world to see, though his artwork has encouraged and inspired many. Most importantly, though, it seemed the creative process served a devotional purpose in his life, and I wanted all that that process had to offer.
And so, my journey as a word artist began that summer, over four years ago, and it hasn’t let up since.
Every time I create a new piece of word art, creating that piece draws me into the heart of God in a more tangible and intimate way than I ever knew before exercising that creativity. And that creativity serves a restorative purpose in my life. It is redemptive. It causes me to reflect on the beauty, goodness, and truth in my life, and the lives of those I love. If indeed I am an image-bearer of the one true God– who is Himself the ultimate and perfect Creator– then the art of creating things draws me closer to the heart of God. As I devote myself to the act and art of creating, it somehow transforms my walk with God. My artwork works on me. I don’t just work on it.
One piece that has lasted through the years as my most beloved piece, created that first summer as a word artist, has inspired many posts on my blog, and has even made it into the homes and hearts of other believers. It is called “Romans 8:18.” Most people immediately look at this piece and proclaim it to be a depiction of the weight of glory. It does indeed showcase that heaviness, but was initially inspired by the NIV translation of Romans 8:18 – “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Imagine! A day when suffering will finally come to a close and our glorification will be ushered in. A moment in history will occur when suffering is no more, and glory is ours to enjoy, forevermore!
As I create pieces like Romans 8:18, these reflections become the beats of my heart: suffering, death, resurrection, glory, repeat. The art I create beckons me to pull the future into the present moment. As you embark on your own creative journeys, I implore you to think of those journeys with a spiritual lens. I encourage you to pull what you know about God’s future reality into our present world. Use your creativity to let God in. Let Him use artwork to work on you, too. God can use the creative process to create in us hearts that are willing and eager to receive the Gospel.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve created a piece because of a deepening of my faith in Christ. I’m awakened to the beauty of Christ, His healing touch, and I cannot help but create something in response. The artwork I create is a result of my faith deepening and growing, but it is also a means through which God displays Himself to me, deepening my faith in the process. So, what does the creative process create in me? A heart willing and eager to receive the Gospel. Because with that willingness to receive the good news, God can work miracles. He can heal. He can bring about beauty from ashes. All we need to do is let Him in, and create.