Part 3 in the Series:
The Bezalel Blueprint
By Don Enevoldsen
I don’t believe in Fate.
I do believe in Destiny.
Understanding the difference between the two is critical to success as an artist (or in any area of life, for that matter). An amazing number of artists trust their lives to Fate, believing it is Destiny. But it isn’t. Bezalel fulfilled his Destiny. Judas met his Fate.
Fate says, “If it’s meant to be, it will be.” Implying you have no control over it.
Destiny says, “I was meant to be something. I was created with the necessary talent, ability and resources to be exactly that. Whether or not I accomplish my Destiny will depend on my choices and my perseverance.” This implies that obstacles to the fulfillment of Destiny might be obstacles, not signs.
(As a side note, for those who require scholarly accuracy, the word “destiny,” as it is used throughout the Bible, refers to an end, and almost always has a negative connotation. It appears in statements like, “The destiny of the wicked is the grave.” For this discussion, however, I will use the word “destiny” in the broader sense of “a calling” or “purpose” that has become common in modern usage, especially in church. If you do not require scholarly accuracy, then never mind.)
Most artists, at least those I’ve known, have some sense of a calling. It’s not always clearly defined or even understood, and they are often distracted from it or frustrated in it, but their love of creative expression runs inescapably deep. Their frustration is not in recognizing that they are called, though they benefit from being reminded of that, but they are frustrated in trying to fulfill it.
For this reason, we need to examine just what it means to be chosen. Being chosen is not a matter of Fate. It is a Destiny. Being chosen does not guarantee anything. It is a collaborative project that involves both God and the artist.
The word “chosen” means to be selected or preferred over others, picked out of the crowd for a specific purpose. Those who grew up in church, as I did, will immediately recognize the similarity of that definition to another biblical word—“holy.” Holy is usually characterized as “set apart for God’s purpose.” It implies selection by God for something specific. In other words, chosen. Not surprisingly, without understanding the biblical idea of holiness, it is impossible to really grasp what it means to be chosen.
The best place to study holiness is in the book of Leviticus, since it occurs so often there that it can be considered a theme of the book. Skim through and notice how many times God says, “Be holy as I am holy.”
(I realize that many of you are yawning right now. Just the mention of Leviticus makes you sleepy. When you suffer from insomnia, you start reading the purity laws. I understand, but I assure you, this will be vital for your life as a creative genius, and by the time we’re done, Leviticus will actually be interesting. At least more interesting than it is now. Stick with it. This could take two or three weeks to cover, and the first part is the hardest. But it’s worth it.) (Really.)
We must begin by identifying three pairs of words that represent opposites. These six words define the world:
1. Holy is the opposite of Common,
2. Clean is the opposite of Unclean,
3. Sanctified is the opposite of Profane.
Leviticus divides everything into holy and common. Basically anything that is not holy is common. Common things are further divided into either clean or unclean. This gives the world a kind of three-tiered structure:
1. At the top is holy.
2. In the middle is clean.
3. At the bottom is unclean.
The meanings of these three words get lost in the yawning that is usually associated with Leviticus. I grew up in church, and I don’t think my reactions to the subject are particularly unique. It was taught occasionally, and I picked up some of it. But really, I think the pastor was as bored with it as the rest of us.
In those sermons from my early life, holiness was encouraged. We were made to understand that it was something good. The word was simply defined as “set apart for God’s purpose.” That meant that I was supposed to devote myself to the ministry of the Great Commission. Also, I needed to live a life that would not bring embarrassment to the preaching of the Gospel. Basically holiness meant, “Be good and preach the Gospel.”
The idea of being clean was rarely broached except in the context of holiness. It was almost considered a synonym of holy, without the “set apart” aspect. Basically clean meant, “Be good.”
Unclean was what happened when I wasn’t good. And that wasn’t good. We were supposed to avoid unclean by not committing sin. Unclean meant, “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t dance.”
Those definitions shaped much of my early spirituality. And I should point out that they were mostly correct. Unfortunately, they were not complete. To grasp the biblical idea of Destiny, I had to examine them a bit further. (The basic outline of the following definitions is from The Book of Leviticus by Gordon J. Wenham, a part of The New International Commentary on the Old Testament.)
The Meaning of Clean
From what I’ve said so far, you might think the reason so few people achieve Destiny is a lack of holiness. Actually, the problem might be that we are too holy too soon. We have tried to become holy before we are clean. Before that statement makes any sense, we will have to define clean. I believe that people understand holiness reasonably well, but have virtually no clue what it means to be clean, at least in relation to holiness. They are very similar but the differences are significant.
The basic meaning of clean is purity. The same Hebrew word describes pure gold, for example, as in Exodus 25:11. It is all gold and nothing but gold. But that can be a little misleading. The Hebrew concept of cleanness is closer to the English word “normal.” Something is clean when it is as it is supposed to be, that is, when it is normal, without impurities or confusion of content.
One example from Leviticus might help illustrate what this means. Chapter 11 contains laws concerning clean and unclean food. The definition is given primarily in terms of classification. A clean animal is one that has split hooves and chews a cud. Clean sea creatures are defined by whether or not they have fins and scales. Birds of prey are considered unclean.
The classification essentially identifies animals that are considered normal. This is relatively easy to see in the case of fish.
“Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams, you may eat any that have fins and scales. But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water— you are to detest. And since you are to detest them, you must not eat their meat and you must detest their carcasses. Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be detestable to you.” (Leviticus 11:9-12)
A clean or normal fish is one that has a body streamlined with scales and which propels itself through the water with fins. A crab isn’t a normal fish. It goes sideways and doesn’t have fins. Clean means that everything is created to be a certain way, fill a particular role, and abide within certain parameters that are considered normal for that class. When it is what it’s supposed to be, not confused by trying to be something else, then it is normal, or clean.
The emphasis in all of this clean/unclean discussion in Leviticus is on the classification. God wants us to understand something about how he created the world. It’s not that he hates crabs. He created them. It’s not even about the nutritional value of some foods over others. If that were all God had in mind, Jesus would never have declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19). It’s about what the thing was created for.
Note the order in which thoughts are presented in the verses quoted above. If a fish does not fit the category of fish, you shall detest it. Because you detest it, you shall not eat it. It is to be avoided because it doesn’t fit the category, not because it shouldn’t be eaten. It isn’t what it’s supposed to be. It isn’t normal.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with being an artist. To simplify it, when God chose you to be an artist, he established in your DNA a normalcy for your existence. You were created to be that and nothing but that. The reason an artist feels so utterly frustrated when not creating art is that he is not living in normalcy for his personal creation. An artist studying law is like a fish without scales or fins. Not surprisingly, he will probably be a crab, and become detestable. (Fill in your own lawyer joke here.) He is levitically unclean. And he will never be happy in that state because he was never intended to live in that state. He was created to be an artist. He should let the lawyers study law. That’s normal for them.
The first step, then, in achieving Destiny is to recognize what is normal for you. What did God create you to be? Whatever that is, you should pursue it. It might not happen overnight. Becoming clean or normal is a process, but if you don’t work toward it, you will never be particularly happy.
Most artists feel that they are different, that they are weird, that they march to the beat of a different drummer, that they don’t fit into normal society. The truth is that different may be exactly what God created you for. You are different. Before you were born, the Lord called you (Isaiah 49:1). He built into you a desire to fulfill your Destiny. Which means you are supposed to be different from anyone else. Which means you’re normal. Better get used to it.
Next, Part 4: The Meaning of Holy.
Go to the beginning of the series, The Bezalel Blueprint: Part 1, The Artist Bezalel
Do you have an additional thought on this subject? Please join the discussion and share your insights.