“This is my Masterpiece!”
A declaration made with a circus master’s flare.
“Really?” I ask.
“Yes! I’ve made a lot of things in my lifetime, but this tops them all!”
I take in her wide grin and arms flung high; a gymnast nailing the landing from the parallel bars. A master chef standing back to admire his work with a dusting of nutmeg, a sprig of fresh oregano. A landscaper leaning on the long, worn handle of a spade, dreams in her eyes as she surveys her creation, the sculpting of nature. That is my daughter, the creative one.
Declaring her work “Good”.
Her masterpiece? A barely inhabitable fort made of scraps: cardboard and bubble wrap, held together with copious quantities of packing tape. Carpeted with blankets and populated with stuffed animals, three of my kids (including the almost gangly fourteen-year-old brother) and two neighbor boys packed into this forty-odd-square foot structure to watch movies on a old TV. We dragged out the little television, foraged for actual video tapes and they munched on a bag of chips. They escaped into the pleasure of enjoying what they’d created.
Is creating a Godly activity? When we consider great artists, it might seem otherwise. Driven by perfection, Nathaniel Hawthorne developed neurotic behaviors, obsessively whittling a table into toothpick slivers, yet he gave us The Scarlet Letter. August Rodin, riddled with insecurity and neediness poorly used people in his life, yet he sculpted The Thinker. Artists are considered self-indulgent, perfectionists, vainglorious.
When God’s spirit breathes into our creative life, art is transformational, holy, worshipful, pleasant and interactive.
Spiritual creativity is an active, intentional response to our Creator. Participating in creative pursuits can make you more like God.
1. Creating drives you to the heart of God’s character. Creative work is at the inception of our understanding of God — he is Creator.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens of the earth.” Genesis 1:1
“Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us and we belong to Him.” Psalm 100:3 NLT
2. Creating draws out our deepest worship. Our quiet offering of self in prayer grows more worshipful when followed by intentional, creative service. We hold in our DNA God’s creative spirit.
“Come, let us bow down and worship him; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker.” Psalm 95:6
3. Creating exercises our spiritual sharing muscles. Creativity fosters community, corporate worship and service and prompts us to give to others.
“All the skilled workers among you are to come and make everything that the Lord commanded, so Moses called Bezalel, Oholiab, and all the other skilled men to whom the Lord had given ability and who were willing to help.” Exodus 35:10, 36:2 NLT
“She spins her own thread and weaves her own cloth. She is generous to the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:20-21 NLT
4. Creating draws us into holy places where we delight in infinitesimal details of God’s active, creative, agape love. When we create we find ourselves ushered into gratitude and wonder and we can agree with him, “This is good!”. Creative work humbles us and lifts our hearts to a higher view of God and we are teachable, responsive to our Master.
“Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do and lead me…” Psalm 27:11 NLT
5. Creating helps us appreciate rest.
“And so the whole universe was completed. By the seventh day God finished what he had been doing and stopped working. He blessed the seventh day and set it apart as a special day, because by that day he had competed his creation and stopped working.” Genesis 2:1-3
For many years, I belittled God with my inability to respond to him creatively. I believed that the creative gene skipped me, after all I have artists, builders, seamstresses and singers for siblings. But God gently handed me a spade and a bit of earth, and I began to participate in turning earth, planting seeds. Engaged in the garden, he taught me that above all, creativity is partnership with my Creative parent and dancing in the beauty of his art. God gave me words, His word and taught me language and poetry, humility and graciousness; He taught me to share words as a creative expression of worship and a means to draw others into his goodness.
How do you feel about creative living? Do you struggle with the chaos that art brings into your life? Do you ever feel guilty about time “whiled away” in creative pursuits?
Can creative living instigate gratitude and compel us toward sharing God’s love with others?