Friday, April 25, 2014

Come Play in the Sandbox!

"It's like here's God on the beach, playing in the sand, making sand castles. Then you walk by and He looks up and sees you and says, "Hey! Come over and play!" And I get to come over and play in the sand with God. It's so awesome to get to play in God's sandbox."
~Jared Emerson, on how he feels about his gift of painting. (Taken from William Paul Young, author of "The Shack" and "Crossroads")

Jared beginning his masterpiece as the
Southern Illinois Worship Center band plays
God does some amazing things through people who allow Him to work through them. He promises that He has a plan and a purpose for all of us, so why wouldn't He do amazing things! He gives each of us a portion of talents and I believe He expects great things out of all of us. Whatever talent you have, it is a gift from God and we are to use those gifts to tell others about His wonderful love.

Captivating and Spirit-filled
Recently, at the Good Friday services at my church, I was privileged to witness one of these God-given talents firsthand when I watched a man named Jared Emerson paint a stunning portrait of Jesus. Set on a backdrop of black canvas, Jared moved, swayed, and jumped as he smeared and spattered paint upon what would ultimately be his latest masterpiece.

As our worship band played, I can honestly say that Jared had everyone captivated as he slid his fingers up and down the fabric. We watched as with every spatter, every smear across the canvas, an image began to appear. By the end of the song, it was clear...the face of Jesus. Not only does Jared paint in a unique way, he also signs his paintings just as unique. A hand print.

If the music doesn't move you spiritually, watching the face of Jesus appear on canvas to the music will. I was awe struck to get to witness this twice in one night as our church held two services on Good Friday. I spoke to Jared afterward and discovered a very humble servant of the Lord.

Me: When you paint, do you get inspiration before you begin or while you're painting?

Jared: Both. I don't know why, but I get really nervous before I get up to paint. I wish his [the pastor's] prayer would never end, then I want it to end, but then I think, 'I'm not ready.' But when I get up there the Spirit takes over and it all comes together.

Picture #1 from first service.

We talked a little more about inspiration, but what really affects him is a combination of the music, how "worked up" the worship band gets, and of course how much the audience gets into what's happening on the stage. 

Jared painted two portraits and while they were of the same thing, there were also differences in each painting due to the excitement level during the worship songs.

Yours truly with Jared
It was as I was leaving that Jared gave me the most inspiring of messages, which I shared at the beginning of this post; "I get to play in the sand with God." 

Playing in the sandbox with God, our Creator. I never thought of using my talent in this way, but like Jared pointed out, God beckons us to come over to His proverbial sandbox and play with Him. Whether we choose to come, or decline the invitation, is totally up to us. But should we choose to come over into the sandbox and play, we usually get a whole lot more than we expected.

For Jared, it's the art of painting. Not only can he capture the image of Christ, but he can also capture many other images as well. What about you? What is it that God has invited you to use to play in the sand with Him? Mine is writing and speaking. My husband rides a motorcycle to tell others about Jesus. My friend Lanna writes as well, sings, and is compassionate toward others. Some of us preach. Some quilt, or crochet, some build beautiful homes and buildings, others play sports, sing, play a musical instrument (or several), some draw or paint. Some listen, some cook, but whatever it is that you do, know that it is a gift from God. It's your invitation to come play in the sand with Him.

Picture #2 after second service.
A distinct difference
Playing in the sand with God. What an invitation! Yet, isn't that what a good Parent does with their children...plays with them, or even plays in the sand with them, teaching them about life, love, fun, and how to use their gifts and talents? How exciting! I wonder... will you come and play using your talent for His glory? Will you come play in the sandbox?

You can read Jared's story by going to his website at
Follow Jared on Facebook and Twitter


Karla Akins said...

Whoa. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Awesome post. Awesome art. Awesome God!

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