Have you ever struggled to create something? Maybe you’re writing a blog article, composing a piece of music or painting a picture. The more you try to work at it, the more difficult it becomes. Eventually you become frustrated because the whole effort feels futile.
At times like these, it’s good to take a rest and take your mind completely off the project.
When we take time to sleep or rest in God, this can help us be even more creative.
Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the importance of rest. Admittedly though, I don’t always put it into practice myself, despite knowing I would actually benefit from it.
Here are a couple of examples of how rest can be beneficial to you and can help you actually become more creative.
How can sleep and resting in God make you more creative?
During REM sleep, the state we experience while dreaming, the brain processes various experiences and information including those related to our multiple intelligences. In particular, our visual, kinesthetic, emotional and autobiographical memory regions of the brain activate in greater measure.
At the same time, the areas that control rational thought take a back seat. This stimulates greater creativity and allows us to come up with novel solutions to problems that we wouldn’t necessarily consider while awake.
Rest can help you with your creative work
There are times when I’ve experienced frustration trying to come up with something fresh and original and not simply going down the same path as before. When I’ve been sleeping, however, I’ve actually had entire songs come to me in the middle of the night in a dream. Not only that, but these were fully orchestrated. It would be as if I were listening to a recording or performance of a song, but never having heard it before.
I had to drag myself out of bed and record it immediately. If I didn’t, the idea would have vanished from my mind when I woke up in the morning. During the day I’d review it to see if it was any good, or if I was simply remembering someone else’s song. Once I had double-checked and it turned out not to be, I’d realise that God had given me this song. It would often be in a style I wouldn’t naturally compose in.
A similar thing happened with Beatles singer-songwriter Paul McCartney.
He was staying at his family’s house in London during the filming of the movie Help! One night he a dream in which he heard a melody playing in his head. Upon waking up, went over to the piano and tried it out. He was immediately enchanted by it because it had come to him in his sleep.
For the next month or so trying he tried to find out if he had unconsciously plagiarised someone else’s song. McCartney was convinced he had, because he had never written anything like it before. When no-one claimed it, he added the dummy lyrics “Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs”. Later on, he came up with more suitable words.
This dream piece went on to become the classic Beatles song Yesterday.
Resting in God can help you discover your purpose
The second example is when I was trying to find purpose in my life and wondering how to use my talents for God’s glory. Nothing yielded any fruit. So instead of continuing to wrestle with that frustration, I simply rested in God, spent time in his word and tried to put Psalm 37:4 into practice. This says:
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (NIV)
Now I should clarify. When we talk about God giving us the desires of our heart, this does not mean that he is some kind of cosmic genie. This passage isn’t saying that God will simply grant us absolutely anything we desire on condition that we’ve delighted in him first.
Rather, we should read it that God specifically places certain desires in our hearts.
If we delight ourselves in him, he can put or “give” certain desires into our hearts. These originate from him to do his will and bring glory to Him so that His desires become our desires.
As I did delighted myself in God, I came up with the idea for my Graphic Novel Bible. This was borne out of reading God’s word and wanting to experience it more visually.
If I had simply strived to figure it out on my own strength and with my own ideas, I may never have come up with it myself.
It was all because I rested in God the creator, the source of our creative ability.
Creatives need rest. It helps our creativity.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV)
When we rest in God and take time away from our work, we are choosing to trust in him for our future. We are not leaning on our own understanding or ability to influence the situation. Instead, we are acknowledging that our future lies in his hands and that as we submit to him, he will make straight or direct our paths.
If you’re stuck for ideas or suffering from writer’s block, why not rest in God and entrust your talents to him? You might find you’re able to produce something you could never imagine on your own.
I’ve spoken in more detail here why creatives need rest regularly. There are many other benefits to resting and observing the Sabbath.
Have you ever rested and then found the solution to a problem? Or have you ever come up with an amazing creation in your sleep that you couldn’t possibly have imagined while awake?
If so, leave a comment down below.
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Robert is the founder of Drawing on the Word. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and a Master’s degree in Systematic Theology. He also has a degree in Law and was called to the Bar. Robert previously taught religious studies and was a theology lecturer. He is an artist, musician and writer, and has created a graphic novel version of Luke’s gospel. You can follow him below.