“And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.” Mark 1:13(NKJV)
Last week we learned how important it is to have time alone to harness your creativity—an artist’s wilderness. This week Jesus shows us that there’s more going on in the wilderness than just brainstorming.
When Jesus goes into the wilderness, He’s tempted by Satan for 40 days. And as if that’s not bad enough, He’s apparently surrounded by an unfriendly safari of “wild beasts”. This shows us that the wilderness is also a battleground where the artist’s heart gets hammered into shape. We’ve all probably heard sermons galore on Satan’s temptations here so I’m gonna leave that horse alone. What intrigues me is that Jesus is with “wild beasts”. These don’t seem to be cuddly Build-a-Bears keeping Him company. Beasts are savage animals that rip things apart. When God calls an artist into a wilderness, it’s often to force the artist to face the beasts inside them that threaten to tear them apart.
As a writer I know the trap of using my writing to avoid dealing with my pain. The cycle will go something like this: Emmanuel gets hurt. Emmanuel writes a spoken word about the hurt. Emmanuel performs said spoken word about hurt. Emmanuel receives praise for said performance and stops thinking about aforementioned pain.
But when I went through a really bad breakup, God interrupted this cycle by telling me to write about it, but that I wasn’t allowed to share what I wrote. This forced me to have to sit with my beasts and face them.
Writing things that are inspired by your pain will inevitably provide some relief. Sharing it will provide even more. But until we sit down and stare straight into the jaws of the pain, all we’ve done is swallow some painkillers—we haven’t actually gotten to the root. But when we bring the pain to God and are brutally honest with Him and with ourselves, that’s when He brings angels to minister to our souls and brings the healing.
What are the beasts in your life that you try to avoid? What pain have you written about but haven’t fully processed? Face the beasts and it will unleash more creativity than you had expected. Because before God can get into your art, He has to get into your heart.