What if Your Art Doesn’t Pay the Bills?

Though the fig tree should not blossom,

    nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail

    and the fields yield no food,

the flock be cut off from the fold

    and there be no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord;

    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength;

    he makes my feet like the deer’s;

    he makes me tread on my high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

In Old Testament times you made your living from agriculture. Your financial condition was tied directly to the condition of the fields, fruit, herds and flocks the Lord had given you.

In this blog on money and fame, the Lord calls us (Proverbs 27) to take care of these same things (flocks, herds, fields). We are called to steward over the gifts, blessings, skills he’s sewn into our lives.

What happens when it’s not working? When it seems that God is not providing, even though you are stewarding well?

Habakkuk describes lack of success as an apparent reality: “Though…”

All of us experience apparent reality – meaning that things look, feel or seem different than what they really are.

Contextualized for our time and your apparent reality, what can you relate to in these verses?

  • the fig tree does not blossom
  • there’s no fruit on the vines
  • the produce of the olive is failing
  • the fields yield no food
  • the flock is cut off from the fold
  • there’s no herd in the stalls

Most of us know, if we’re honest, how we’d like God to improve our financial situation. We want God to change our circumstances.

Sometimes he doesn’t.

So how does God address our apparent reality?

In the midst of fruitlessness and failure, Habakkuk rejoices, twice.

“… yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

God doesn’t promise to do something – he promises to be something, “God, the Lord, is my strength…”

God knows our limits. In difficult circumstances he reveals a new perspective. We’re given the feet, pathway and destination to enable us to see beyond our apparent reality, and to joyfully experience God’s salvation and strength.

Here’s a question you can use for self-coaching. Share your thoughts in the comments section or contact me directly.

  • In what ways does God’s salvation and strength apply to you as an artist?

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2 Responses

  1. Jennifer Eby says:

    The fig not blooming: Not sharing the beauty of the gifts God’s given me with others; No one benefits.
    No fruit on the vine: Though my creative well isn’t stagnant, who am I offering a cup of cold water to?? “As you have done to the least of these…”
    Produce of olive failing: I may have fruit but it isn’t actually being “brought forth to perfection”. It might be more like a wild vine-unpruned, uncultured.
    No fruit in the field: My gift is not being used to spiritually edify others; no food for thought.
    Flocks cut off from fold: Maybe I’m fencing out others from some thing God intended to build up His Church.
    No herd in the stalls: You cannot build a herd, multiply the loaves and fishes, feed the masses, truly stretch out your gifts to the poor or even multiply them for your own good if you don’t actually engage in allowing your gifts to breed (so to speak).
    God’s eternal blessing lies on those who willing accept His plan and yield themselves to the gaining of interest in the talents He has given. If you don’t humbly put yourself out how can anyone give interest; they don’t even know the option to invest exists.
    Jesus’s gift is salvation. He offered it humbly in the face of rejection, mocking, false accusations and even death. He offered it freely even to those He knew would reject it. Jesus Christ, Himself, IS the gift. God IS and He will give me all I need to also Be the gift He intended as a blessing to others, even when not everyone believes in me/my gift.
    God wants me to find joy in who/how He has fashioned me even when I don’t understand why or it seems all is lost.

    • Jim says:

      That’s an extraordinary meditation Jennifer. There’s so much there for me and others to ponder. Thanks for sharing it.

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