60 black chairs, postured on legs of chrome, sat Sunday morning in the atrium of Troy University waiting to be adorned by industry design leaders and up-and-coming commercial artists and illustrators. The morning light filled the atrium as if reflecting the light of the divine as the attendees started to make their way to the breakfast table and then eventually their seats. The breakfast table was smothered with southern delights such as biscuits and ham, in addition to bars of nuts and fruit and other goods.
However, 60 chairs were not enough for the third annual Creative by Design session that has become the traditional ending to the Creative South Conference in Columbus, Georgia. In fact, more chairs were needed to accommodate the growing CBD community of believers who spend their days creating in their respective fields. 76 creatives were in attendance. 76 creative souls thirsting for community, for connection, a connection found in their Creator, the Potter who is molding us into what He wants each of us to be.
Now you may say, 76 is not an astronomical number, but it was ten percent of the total conference attendance, and considering CBD had 11 people the first year and 28 last year, this was a number we did not foresee.
God’s plans always far outweigh ours.
I was in awe.
In fact, I was so much in awe that Mike Jones had to put his arm around me and pray over me. He knew my heart for this group. We had discussed it time and time again. Nearly three years previous Mike and I had discussed the idea for ending the conference as a way for believing creatives still in town to have a place to go and study together, but only God knew where it would lead. This community is not about Creative South, nor Mike Jones, nor myself, nor the core group that met in the “upper room” of Iron Bank coffee two years previous. Creative by Design is exactly that; a community created by His design. A community of creatives set out to seek the Creators purpose for our lives, and to seek Him out together. While I had my material in hand to teach that morning, it was He that was teaching me.
If I back up two hours previous to arriving for the CBD session, I find myself having breakfast with my good friend Luke LeFevre. Luke is a senior creative director for Dave Ramsey’s creative team and many of Dave’s products. I worked with Luke for four years as I led a team there too. As we sat over plates of bacon and eggs, we talked about the message for that morning. I would talk about God’s model for creativity, being made in the image of our creator. Luke would deliver a message on the fears we face as creatives. We talked about letting the moment be guided by the spirit of discussion. Again, God’s plans were greater than ours, as we would find later that nearly half the room would be open to sharing their own personal fears.
Back to CBD, a couple of hours later as more and more people trickled into the atrium, and as the room filled and Eminent Worship started singing worship songs, I was totally overwhelmed by God’s provision. This seed Mike and I had planted two years earlier, it was apparent God had watered and cultivated. This tree had taken root, and grown!
76 souls entered His throne room that morning. We gathered together to proclaim our God is greater than our fears. Our inspiration comes from Him. We are His workmanship, created for His good purpose.
This tree is growing … to bear His fruit.
The holy scriptures do not tell us what type of fruit grew on the Tree of Life, but I can only imagine after Sunday’s session, it grew peaches. Sweet peaches. Peaches like those in Georgia. Peaches ripe and full of the nectar of life; sweet as the honey dripping from the worker bee making life … possible. Sweet because of the bond of Christ. A bond shared among creatives who believe there is something more; more to life than the hamster wheel of day-to-day work. More because of Him, God, the creator of all things. His Son the new creation. His Spirit that dwells in our inner most being driving us to be more; more than we can see, more than we can imagine, more than our earthly minds can grasp, and ultimately more for Him.
This weekend I experienced a hope and a calling from our God, borne out to my fellow believing creatives. I sensed the community growing, one of talent and wisdom from the Divine; one that wants to belong, share, commune, love, and conquer the fears we all share. But fear is not of God. Fear is a human emotion that holds us back from our true purpose, a purpose to glorify our Father in all things. In all things, we create. We have the power, in Him, to create a better world. To inspire others to live for Him, and by Him. To be a new creation!
A special 'Thank You' to Alicja Colon for the excellent photography.