2 sides of the same coin


I just went on a 20-minute walk. I often take short walks during days when I’m home writing. Even on a day like today when I am not feeling well, while my body is tired, I still find it necessary to get up and out of the house, to get my body moving, to clear my mind. And I always find I am provided with insight and rejuvenation for my heart and my soul.

On this one particular 20-minute walk, I noticed something. The two sides to things, life, this world.

In this one short walk I saw flowers in full bloom, I smelled their fragrant scent they offered to the world, their beauty to be enjoyed by all who see. I saw life in the sound of birds chirping, in the fresh, thick, vibrant green in blades of grass, in the face of baby, and in the stride of my step. I saw life and beauty and growth.

And yet I also saw death, decay, and the ugly. I passed by a rat rotting on the sidewalk as I walked past pine cones that had been gnarled and chewed. I saw dead branches of palm trees strewn about the streets, and a big, bright “no trespassing” sign on a neighbor’s front door.

Two sides to the same coin–the same walk, the same neighborhood.

. . .

how it all began

Back at Creation, in the Garden when God first created man and placed him there, there was only one side of the coin–Good. There was only good. Only righteousness.

And yet when The Fall happened, there opened up another path, there created a second side to the coin–that of evil.

Good and evil. Two sides of the same coin that was now life as we would know it from then on out.

And thus, everything–every day, every person–that follows has had two sides to the same coin. It’s all around us in this world, and it’s right there within our very souls.

We do well at times to hide our side of darkness, struggle, despair, our insecurities, fears, and most embarrassing moments and flaws and mistakes. And yet they are there. They are unavoidable. No one gets through this life with just one side of the coin.

I’ve seen in myself as I’ve grown these last couple of years just how significant and vibrant my own two sides of my coin are. And that of this world.

And yet I’ve learned I don’t have to be a victim to the status quo–that I can stand up, man up, dig in and dive down and bring up and out my darkness into the light, that it may lose its power, its hold, its weight that hinders me.

The other side of the coin will always be there; but we can armor up to win the battle.

. . .

the Israelites’ journey

I see two sides to the same coin in the Israelites journey from slavery in Egypt to the bounty of the Promised Land. Their journey through the wilderness was marked by Israel’s grumbling and by God’s providing. By their complaining and God’s reminding. By their doubting and by God’s proving. By their actual stated desire to return to slavery and by God’s steadfast faithfulness in bringing them to freedom.

Two sides to the same coin–the same journey, the same story.

. . .

our own two sides

We have dreams, and yet we fear our dreams.

We have desires, and yet we feel our limitations.

We long to take hold of success, but we are crippled by our failures.

Two sides to the same coin.

. . .

the two sides of creativity

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about “shadow artists”–artists who have limited their true creative potential and settled for a lesser creative role {i.e. a teacher instead of a professional on that topic, a rep instead of an actor, an advertising exec. instead of a novelist}. “They want to write. They want to paint. They want to act, make music, dance… but they are afraid to take themselves seriously,” she writes.

And then in the very next paragraph she instructs that in order to take hold of your full creative potential, to move from shadow artist to true artist, one must play–in essence, not take themselves too seriously! She writes, “With gentle, deliberate effort, they must nurture their artist child. Creativity is play, but for shadow artists, learning to allow themselves to play is hard work.”

Work and play.

Taking ourselves seriously and yet not taking ourselves too seriously.

Two sides of the same coin.

. . .

the two sides of response

Do you feel limited by your not-so-pretty side of the coin?

You need not be.

I believe we have two responses:

  1. We can either be victims.
  2. or we can be warriors.

I believe we can either:

  1. rise up
  2. or sink back

We can:

  1. complain and grumble like the Israelites
  2. or we can faithfully walk through the wilderness, recognizing and giving thanks to God for His provision, and get to the Promised Land a whole lot quicker

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that no temptation has seized us accept that which is common to man. Do you feel alone in your hinderance to pursue creativity? Don’t be. Do you feel alone in your struggle against sin, self, and Satan? Don’t be. Do you feel limited by all your fears and failures? Don’t be. No temptation has seized you except that which is common to man. Meaning, you’re not so special! These trials you endure, these obstacles you face, these limitations you embody? They are common to man, mankind, woman, human beings.

They have been since The Fall.

And yet God promises that not only is nothing too hard for the Lord, He will provide you with a way out. 1 Cor. 10:13 wraps up by saying, “but with that temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”

I’ve never seen The Maze Runner, but it came to mind when I read this verse. When we are caught up in temptation to give into the darkness, into sin, into living a complacent, simple and selfish life, it can feel like we are in the middle of a maze with walls taller than us and we can be crippled in fear and indecision and overwhelm as to how to possibly make our way out.

And yet God provides us with the way–an escape route, if you will.

God provides us with an escape route from all the hindering that the dark side of the coin brings. When things are brought to light, they lose their power. What is the darkness, what are the doubts that are holding you back, keeping you in captivity, making you wander through a wilderness? God wants to shine His light on them, to diminish their power, that we may run through the wilderness clinging to His hope! And that we would be delivered out of the maze and into His marvelous light, and into our full creative potential.

A Kingdom restoration of that which was destroyed in the Garden–pure, beautiful, and perfect creativity.

. . .

a lesson from the Israelites:

{what not to do}

The Israelites were used as an example in the Bible of many truths. I won’t go into all of them. But I will point out one lesson to be learned, and I’m warning you–it’s not a pretty one at all:

23,000 Israelites fell dead in one single day… because of the evil things they desired and gave into and pursued.

They were struck down. Their bodies were destroyed by snakes. And this was all as an example for us so that we will not desire evil things as they did {1 Cor. 10:5-9}

Did you know what one of those “evil things” was? Grumbling. It’s listed right there alongside sexual immorality. We must take care to turn our grumbling into praise, our complaining into rejoicing… that our creative blocks and self-inflicted limitations, and world-induced straight up lies may be the things that are destroyed–not us.

Selves destroyed. Or sin destroyed.

Two sides to the same coin. We have a choice. What will yours be?

. . .

walking the journey, choosing the way

We must walk in humble confidence on the path. It’s not a destination that will be reached overnight–or completely, ever. But God did not come to heal the well, but the sick. He did not come to save the found, but the lost. And He longs to reach us–down to the depths of our souls, to our deepest desires and to our most frightening fears, and He longs to transform us from the inside out, that we may have life eternal {John 3:16} and life to the full {John 10:10}. That we may have life now. Greater, fuller, more beautiful life.

A life marked by the shiniest side of the coin always facing up.

1 Corinthians 10:12 tells us, “So whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall.” And 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan is like a prowling lion, waiting to attack his prey.

We must play both offense and defense.

Two sides of the same coin.

Would you go in peace, work in faith, walk in humble confidence toward to goal, to win the prize.

What is the prize you long to attain? What is the goal you wish to achieve? What is the creative endeavor you long to create?

Would these words be true for you and for me:

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. {Philippians 3:14}

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