Naphtali is a doe set free; he gives beautiful words. Genesis 49:21
“Then Jacob called for his sons and said: ‘Gather around so I can tell you what will befall you in days to come’” (Genesis 49:1). These words, uttered to Naphtali on the occasion of Jacob’s final prophetic blessing concerning each of his twelve sons, capture three important elements that characterize a life artfully lived unto the Lord: freedom, beauty and truth. “Naphtali is a doe set free; he gives beautiful words.”
Freedom is a prerequisite to finding an artful life. Creativity and freedom have always been tied together. Creativity does not spring from a heart in bondage; it comes from a heart set free, and in this image it is pictured by the free, unbounded graceful leaping of a doe that has just been let loose.
“A doe set free” would imply some kind of previous bondage. We don’t know what that is — we don’t have to know — we merely need to know that creativity springs from a heart that has been let loose. We have probably all experienced truly creative moments in our lives. Try to separate those moments from some kind of release of the soul, and I bet you can’t. It just doesn’t happen otherwise.
We all have so many things that can lock us up in bondage — fear, competition, perfection, the past, oppression, abuse, sin, addiction — but God can set us free from all of these when we yield to His Spirit inside. Note that our circumstances still might have us in bondage, but in that state, the heart can still be free. Think of the spirituals the African American slaves wrote and sang while still trapped in the bondage of slavery. Think of Paul or Bonhoeffer or Solzhenitsyn and the works of beauty and truth they created from prison. Prison walls could not contain their hearts set free.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Here freedom appears to be something we can step into or out of. It’s really an issue of faith.
Don’t wait for your situation to change. Is your spirit in bondage? Set it free. Your situation may have you in bondage one way or another — it may be your own doing or that of another — but your way of looking at or dealing with your situation can change everything. It can set you free, and freedom will always come from focusing on Christ. We have all been set free in Christ, regardless. That freedom is real, and it can lead to a creative life should we choose to believe, accept and step into it.
Stay with us. We’re going to follow the search this week for a creative, artful life. Tomorrow we’ll talk about giving beautiful words. Don’t miss it.