I was a child when my mother bought me my first copy of “The Velveteen Rabbit”. It had just come out in a hardback edition for a children’s book club and I can still picture that book and its illustrations today. (I’m sure it helps that I’ve seen many reproductions of that particular edition).
For those who don’t know…the Velveteen Rabbit is a story about a stuffed animal….that eventually becomes real. I think that the quote below is one of the most well-known passages of the book:
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Now there are many ways that I could talk about “real” and worship – and as I read this passage again, I think of so many better ways that I could probably discuss it than what is on my mind.
But what is on my mind – has been on my mind for over a week now…it is something I’ve been contemplating – struggling with perhaps – and yet – trying to seek out why I struggle with it – why I can’t let it go.
As my readers know, I’ve joined a couple of groups on Facebook that deal with art journaling and scripture. Some people do it in their Bibles but in the margins – some do it in their Bibles but over the words and the margins and some do it in a separate notebook. Basically – people are encouraged to find what works best for them and do that. For me – I like using a separate notebook for my larger pictures that are about lessons God is laying on my heart – and then the Bible for listing lessons that I want to remember, etc.
Now I want to start off by saying that I can’t draw a stick figure to save my life. Seriously. I can’t draw a straight line. (I also can’t cut straight). I have no creativity in me when it comes to art whether it is with crayons, pencils, paints, markers, chalk or any other form of artistic rendering.
So..sometimes I see stuff and I admit it – I’m in awe…and maybe just a tad bit envious of the talents of others…wishing God would’ve given me a bit of that talent.
But so many times I’ll see folks posting things and they’ll be talking about techniques or how they “messed up” a page…or whatever – and I get sorta…frustrated.
You see – for me at least – I thought that the journaling was about focusing on God and worshiping Him….not by having a perfect tree or vine or sheep or any other picture…not by being worried if the ink went through the page. Because the focus of it isn’t on what is seen on the paper – but what is happening in my heart as I sit at my “Abba’s” feet and color/draw/attempt to create.
My concern with much of what I see – and I see this in so many other things too – is that we become so concerned with the mechanics of doing what we’re doing to worship…that we forget to actually worship.
Let me explain though – I’m not trying to judge others when I share this – I’m sort of looking at what they say and do and look at myself and then ask myself – “am I getting caught up in the mechanics of worship….or am I truly worshiping?”
In other words – Is my worship real – or am I just expressing something God has laid on my heart and hoping to impress others or change them or do whatever?
I like sharing what I do – sometimes. But sometimes – the most special images I have (even if I haven’t put them down on paper yet) – are the ones between my Father and me. The ones that only He sees and knows.
I think of Brother Lawrence sometimes. He wrote a book which I’ve never read called “The Practice of the Presence of God” and talked in it about many things – one of which was how he could be in the presence of God while doing his daily chores. I’ve seen several quotes from the book and probably should get a copy for myself.
Anyway – to get back to the point of this blog…which is this…
Is my worship real? Am I doing it to sit at the feet of my Father and worship Him? Or am I caught up in doing the “right thing” with the “right methods” in order to get the “best results”?
I will say this…..over the years I was more vocal in my worship and more “observable” by others as I’d worship God while in worship in church with others.
But over the years – as God has become more and more “real” to me through the various events in my life…sometimes the worship that feels most real for me to practice…it just to sit silently and meditate on His Word…and listen for His voice…and wait for His presence. And when it happens…when my soul is quiet long enough to be still before Him and wait for Him…oh how precious it is…..
….and how real it becomes to me.