Lessons Learned – Story Conference 2011

The engines blared loudly, as my plane reached for the sky and headed south. This was the beginning of the end of a special time in Chicago. As we made our way up into the clouds, I began to contemplate and try to digest all of the information and inspiration I had received over the past few days. I had just returned from attending a conference called Story. It is for creatives such as filmmakers, artist, songwriters, writers, designers, just to name a few. They gather each year to draw inspiration from fellow creative thinkers, and provide encouragement to one another by reminding each other the importance of their craft in telling the greatest Story ever told.

As I thought over all of the things said and done, I began to see a similar theme laid out over the two days of the conference. The first three words that came to the surface of my thoughts were Darkness, Discouragement, and Doubt. Many of those who presented talked about things in this world that you can describe as darkness such as disease, abuse, and human trafficking. Many also referred to discouragement in terms of their failures, disappointments, and pain. If you allow darkness and discouragement to take control of your life it will ultimately lead to doubt.

While I continued contemplating what I heard I remember listening to Ann Voskamp, she mentioned the following three words: Gazing, Gratitude, and Glory. I did not make much of these words when they were first spoken but as the day progressed and the conference came to an end I began to see how these three words were the antithesis of the other three words. I also realized that throughout the conference, these words were also a common theme.

You see it is quite difficult to do much gazing when one is in darkness but the eye seemly is drawn to the light as soon it breaks the darkness. As one begins to see the light, one can either turn away or be lead to a heart of gratitude instead of the feeling of discouragement. And instead of the doubt, there now becomes a hope of glory.

So you may ask what the difference is between the first three words and the later. I believe it can be summed up with two words that were also evident in the talks during the conference. Those words are control and surrender.

Laura Chandler shared her story including recent events with her well-known husbands dealings with cancer. I was struck with the scripture she shared, Psalm 107. This basic theme throughout this Psalm was celebrating God’s providential deliverances. It has a beautiful repetition of showing the hopeless estate of the people then their redemption by the Savior. The people were faced darkness (vs. 10), discouragement (vs. 5) and were all but filled with doubt (vs. 27). Under these circumstances all they could do was to cry out which they did in verses 6, 13, and 19. In this text the people started out thinking they were in control only to find once trouble came this was not the case. As they cried out they surrendered and only then did the Lord provide the salvation they needed. In other words, the surrender brought victory and freedom that allows for the truest form of creativity.

I found that this parallels the creative process in my life. Many times we have an idea or a project only to come to the point when the vision we have begins to be filled with darkness, discouragement and doubt. We try and control the art or the direction of the vision instead of surrendering and gazing at the One who gave us the vision in the first place. He is the one who will provide the leading, direction and guidance. This is what we can be grateful for and give Him the glory.

In a greater sense though, we have been given a Greater Story to tell. We have all been gifted in some creative way to share this Story. This Great Story has a similar theme as discussed above. Once I was filled with darkness, discouragement and doubt. There came a time I had to surrender my will and gaze on the one who saves. That one is Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day it was about the Gospel. The one lesson God has been teaching me this year is the importance of reminding yourself and others of the Gospel daily. I need to be reminded about the darkness and sin that was, the Savior who came, and the light and life He provided to me. It also reminds me that He now deserves all the Glory by offering my life to Him a living sacrifice. By doing this it reminds me the freedom I know have in Christ because of my surrender to Him. Likewise, we are to remind each other and encourage each other with this Good News.

As the fasten seatbelt light came on and the flight attendant announced were starting to descend, I awoke from a nap and looked out the window. You see, I enjoy sitting in the window seat of an airplane because I believe if I can at least see out the window I will be able to in some way control the plane. This is ridiculous, I know, but this is how I see it. In reality, though, I have no control. Once I enter that plane, I surrender my control to the pilot and trust Him completely. Once the wheels had touched down back in Florida, applause broke out in the cabin for a smooth landing, and as people passed by the pilot, they walked by and said thank you. In a much greater sense, that Day will come when our Lord Jesus Christ will receive all the Glory.

We all have been called to tell this Story.


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