You were born to live art. This is the foundational argument behind Emily P. Freeman’s latest book, A Million Little Ways. I am a HUGE fan of Emily. I read her book Graceful a few months ago and instantly fell in love with her heart and her writing. She speaks truth and life in a powerful and beautiful way. A Million Little Ways only increased my admiration of Emily.
The book explores three main topics: Who is the artist? What is the art? How do we create that art? God created us in His own image (Genesis 1:27). God is the Creator, and therefore, we also have the ability to create beautiful things. The art is a result of the way God created us, individually and uniquely. He has set specific desires and purposes within us – that is our art. We create by living a life that brings glory to God. By giving Him thanks in the everyday and honoring Him in our responsibilities, we are living art.
Christians often feel like they must do the hard and uncomfortable things in order to be in God’s will. If we don’t enjoy it, it must be from God. Right? Wrong. Emily argues that God wants to give us the desires of our heart. Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Our dreams and desires are gifts from God. He wants us to be filled with joy and to come alive with happiness. He created each of His children unique, and as unique beings, we were designed to create different and special art.
A Million Little Ways is full of practical ways to uncover lost passions. Each way is accompanied by an action verb: desire… rescue… sink… see… listen… As I read, I took notes of my answers to some of the questions Emily posed. And as I read, I began to discover more about myself.
Injustice and hopelessness make my heart break. Stories of overcoming hardship make me cry. I question my purpose and effectiveness. I dream of change and reform.
While I was reading A Million Little Ways, I visited the University of Virginia and attended one of their Intervarsity meetings. The speaker’s message correlated perfectly with what I had been reading, so I thought it would be relevant to share it here as well. The speaker reminded us that Christians are needed in every avenue of work. There are 5 different categories of God-work she identified. The list is not exhaustive and it overlaps.
Redemptive work – social workers, counselors, public speakers, writers
Creative work – painters, sculptors, authors, graphic designers, event planners, musicians
Justice work – lawyers, soldiers, rescue workers, analysts, politicians
Providential work – engineers, technicians, businessmen, doctors
Revelatory work – teachers, journalists, authors, photographers
God has called people to each of these categories, and in some cases, more than one. In regard to discovering our calling, we should ask ourselves three questions: 1) What are my passions? 2) What are my gifts? 3) What is the need?
Through Emily’s book and the IV speakers’ message, I have begun to uncover the art in my life. Words are my passion. Communication is my gift. Redemption and revelation are the needs.
The point of our art is not recognition or perfection or success. “The point instead is to be alive in the presence of Jesus no matter who you’re with, what you’re doing, what’s gone wrong, or how much (or how little) you are paid.” God weaves Heaven into our lives on Earth in the everyday moments.
A Million Little Ways concludes with practical examples of individuals living art in their everyday responsibilities. Once again, Emily uses action verbs to illustrate the call to live art: show up… wait… offer… wonder… create… God is the Artist and we are His art. “What if we decided to believe our purpose in this world really is to reflect the glory of God?” How would that change the way we live? In becoming fully who God has created us to be, we are bringing Him glory. That is our ultimate calling.
I would encourage readers at all stages of life to pick up this book. Emily’s writing is elegant and effortless. Her message is simple yet powerful. Borrow it from a friend, check it out at the library, or better yet, buy it for yourself. It is never to late to discover God’s calling for your life. He never gives up on His art.
– – Phebe