Renewal. It isn’t necessarily marked by traditional ideas of grace, truth and hope. Those are all good things but my experience of renewal is more confusing than that. Life doesn’t hand you a reliable road map. Even if it did, God continually brings me off the road, out of the truck and on hikes with an old school compass. It’s trustworthiness, it’s undeserved faith and love that frames my renewal process.
Years ago, after trying three different schools, having reoccurring nightmares and tremendously hard conversations, much to my chagrin I ended up in the Fine Arts program at Trinity Western University. During my time there, God revealed the differences between pursuing an art career in a quiet gallery setting and creating in the chaotic, diversified setting of the downtown East Side. I remembering thinking, I want to give others the chance to be as happy as I am creating. I didn’t know how to make that into a vocation and, thankfully, I didn’t need to know how.
After graduating, I felt completely alone in my pursuits, I was at the bottom of my barrel and had nothing left to lose. I didn’t know where to go, or who to turn to, but I heard God in the middle of it. God nudging and implying, “Keep living, creating and doing what you’re doing while seeking me.” So I did. I kept searching for the opportunity to work in Vancouver, with a crowd of people who wouldn’t necessarily have the space to create or have the means to do so. Not even a year later, I was at a wedding, when two Vancouver friends told me they knew exactly where I needed to work. And now, a year after that provision, I’m on this crazy exciting path that carves out exactly what I wanted to be doing, even though I had no idea where to begin. My work at Creative Life is life for me.
Working as a summer painter to pay for school, I listened to a St. Peter’s sermon a co-worker/friend recommended while we literally watched paint dry. I started bawling. The words hit my heart hard! I was crying because it was so different from what I was used to hearing. It came at the perfect time, God spoke those words to me in the middle of my decision making period on whether or not I should go to India to paint murals with the locals. The message tied together the subject matter of partnering with the poverty in India and humanity as a broken and hurting community, and it clearly resonated with me.
I’m done with being apathetic about things, I want change. Because of where I am, and because of St. Peter’s, my definition of “church” has definitely evolved from my preconceived notions. My ideas of collective worship have been expanded into seeing life as one giant frame of excitement and being able to explore God in tons of different venues. Art is a huge one. Having the ability and a community that asks you to express yourself in a million different ways for the betterment of others, stokes my passion all the more. Plus, collaborating with other members of our church has been sweet. Church can be experienced everywhere. It’s not as simple as Google mapping, sometimes you won’t get there efficiently, or to the place you were going at all. It is about listening and trusting Christ and each other and painting together along the way.
If you call St. Pete’s home and would like to share a story of renewal, please email our Creative Development Coordinator, Derek Martin.