My wife and I just got back from The Canvas Conference in Portland, Oregon and wanted to share a few thoughts from our experience. Let me first say that there were so many great speakers, performers, artists, and musicians that I couldn't even come close to summarizing everything we heard and all of the lessons we learned. So, I am going to give you a few of the highlights that captivated my mind and convicted my heart. I hope that they are encouraging for you as well.
How to Have Joy in a Hopeless World.
Have you ever heard the saying, "we are living in the already but not yet"? What it means is that Christ has already come and given us salvation through death and resurrection on the cross, but He has not yet returned again to restore creation (and us) to its' original perfection. That is the world we find ourselves living in today. We have been offered hope but live in a place still broken by sin.
I see the reflection of this saying most evidently in my workplace. Processes are dated, due dates and timelines are missed, clarity on direction suffers from a lack of effective communication; Everything is tainted by sin. It is at this moment that I would like to pause and offer some encouragement as I share key points I took to heart from the conference.
1. Our Hope is Found in God Alone
Our hope is not found in our prayers, our sermons, our culture, our works, our jobs, ourselves, or even our spouses. Our hope is in God alone. If we focus in on who God is, His character allows us to have joy and hope (amidst difficult circumstances) because we know we can trust Him. He is holy, He is perfect, He is good, He is all powerful and He is unchanging. Because we can trust in Him, we can trust His promises. We know that He will never fail us. We can put our hope (this is not the same as wishing) in His promises. If you trust the one who makes the promise then you can have hope that they will be fulfilled. And there is nobody we can trust more than God.
2. Joy & Suffering are Not at Odds
This is a tough one for me to wrestle with. I know that joy and happiness are not the same; that happiness is based on circumstances while joy can be found in middle of struggle. But I have a difficult time being joyful when i'm not happy. Something that really stood out to me is that, "Our faith doesn't rest on our emotions (thank goodness) and the gospel is true regardless of how we 'feel'." Sometimes God doesn't answer our questions but rather shows up in the midst of our pain and brokenness in order to bring us joy, simply because He is there with us. So like hope, joy comes from God. The world, in all of its' brokenness, will always let us down. It will always disappoint us. Only God is able to carry the weight of our joy.
3. We are Not Kingdom Builders
As a designer, a creator, a man who likes to make, it is difficult to hear that we are not kingdom builders. God placed inside of me a quality of His, the desire to create. With a proper understanding of my identity, I can use this gift to create while maintaining an eternal perspective and humility towards The Creator. With an improper perspective, I might find my identity in my gift and allow it to run rampant over my life. Sometimes I believe that all of my problems at work will be solved with my own company. There would be no stress, no set backs, no missed deadlines, I wouldn't rely on anyone but myself. There would be nobody to let me down or cause disappointment. It would be perfect, the closest I can get to heaven. But what I have to remember is that Educatingthewheelers is not a kingdom and I'm not even in control of Educatingthewheelers, God is. God is the architect, the creator, the designer, and He is building His Kingdom. The cool thing is that it is His pleasure and joy to share that kingdom with us. Because of Christ, we are co-heirs to the throne.
Overall, this was a humbling experience that has continued to bring my work, Educatingthewheelers, and life into a biblical perspective. I hope that these topics were as encouraging to you as they were for me. Please leave a comment below or send us an email if you'd like to talk further about your own experiences and lessons God has put on your heart. Also if you were at The Canvas Conference, I would love to hear what you learned.