When Creative Gifts Reveal the Creator God

Lessons from the Life of Lilias Trotter

See our related post, The Legacy of Lilias Trotter.

Imagine you grew up surrounded by exquisite English gardens. Your childhood was punctuated by trips to art museums and the beauty spots of Europe. Everywhere you went, your sketchbook and easel went with you. Then God led you to focus on people, not paintings, and serve Him in slums and sandy deserts. Could you do it? Lilias Trotter did.

She was a woman who said yes to God. Though she left her home, she continued to recognize and draw inspiration from natural beauty—and the beauty in people, too—wherever God led her. She kept sketching, painting and writing, using her creative skills to point everyone around her to the Creator God.

Today, Pioneers is looking for creative artists who will go the extra mile like Lilias did, with the glory of God as their primary focus. People who will put self-promotion in the back seat, so God-promotion is in the front. Learn more about opportunities to serve using the arts.

Inspired by Lilias Trotter

“Lilias Trotter is one of my heroes and someone who has become like a dear friend to me over the past few years,” says a Pioneer named Tori. Tori and her husband even decided to name their daughter after the Victorian-age British missionary.

“She almost seems like a hidden gem in the missions world—I only stumbled on her a few years ago. Her story captivated me immediately. As a single woman missionary to the Arab world, she was quite counter-cultural. Lilias gave up a life of fame and recognition for a ‘hidden’ and quiet life, faithfully loving the Muslim people of Algeria.  She felt that following Jesus there and living a life ‘poured out’ for those around her was greater than any prestige that could have been hers.”

Eyes to See

“Loving watercolor myself, I was immediately drawn to her artwork,” says Tori. “I love that she used her talent and passion to testify to the Creator’s beauty. She had a keen sense for this beauty and saw God’s handprints all around her—in the bee she witnessed traveling from flower to flower, the village well, the crocus, the child passing in the market. Each of these images had something to tell her of God’s character and goodness. There was a deeper, unseen spiritual layer underneath the ordinary, often overlooked.”

Lilias did a remarkable job pairing the seen with the unseen, explains Tori. “She frequently went out into the quietness of nature to be refreshed and reminded anew of God’s sweet unchanging presence.”

“I, too, feel the pleasure of God most when I am creating. And I respond to His beauty by trying to capture it in some sort of craft like painting. Or just making a delicious meal, creating a warm home environment, weeding the garden, writing or sewing. Like Lilias, I can sense God’s presence most clearly when I am outside. The noise of everyday life is hushed. I love that Lilias was so faithful to document the beauty of God and how sure He is to reveal himself to those who are looking for Him. We can find Him in the familiar, mundane moments of our day if we know His heart and have eyes to see.”

The Way of the Cross

About a year ago, Tori read Lilias Trotter’s book Parables of the Cross. “I was so moved by her reflections on the resurrection and how creation mimics the spiritual reality. Just as a tree rids itself of its leaves and embraces the nakedness of winter to make way for the new life of spring, we must follow the way of the cross and the way of self-sacrifice if we are to find true and lasting joy in Jesus. Lilias tackled a message that was and still is counter-cultural. She shows us that the path of difficulty, loss, suffering, can be the very place where God chooses to ‘triumph gloriously.’”

“I think this encompasses Lilias’s life and calling. And I think it should be the heartbeat of every Christian saved by grace. The lesson of dying does not come easy to us. If only we could stop hoarding and consuming for our comfort and instead spend ourselves for Him.”

See our related post, The Legacy of Lilias Trotter for more about Lilias and links to other resources including a documentary about her life, prints of her paintings and copies of her books.

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