“But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.” ― Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
When we create opportunities, art, safe space, food, music, roads, or technology, we are doing the equivalent of Adam and Eve’s gardening. We are calming the chaos, we are stewarding resources, we are caretaking for the earth and one another. No matter what job you have, you can do it as the image of God, to the glory of God—fully alive. Let God speak to you about your design, let him tell you what brings him glory to watch you coming fully alive.
“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)
Creation is not limited to art, but art has a unique role in creation. Poetry, paintings, music, sculptures, and stories can capture our imagination. They can bring us closer to something beautiful or sad than we would have ventured toward on our own. Art ties threads of connection through the human experience. Art makes us feel something, as we listen to a song or stare at a painting, that we could not have otherwise felt.
When I graduated college my dad gave me his frequent flyer miles so I could fly to Europe and backpack from London to Rome with my friend. The saturation of art was almost overwhelming, and she and I went to the most incredible museums during the day before we crashed at the cheapest hostels at night. I’ll never forget our visit to the Musee d’Orsay.
We had already been awed by the Louvre the day before as we wandered the vaulted and well-lit d’Orsay. The ceilings were so tall that some paintings were hung above others, very high up. A Nikolai Nikolaevich Ge hung almost at the ceiling, I had to crane my head far back to see it. In my low place, staring high up I was transfixed by “The Crucifixion on Golgotha” painted in 1893.
The only images of crosses I had grown up with were simple, looking like a lowercase “t.” They hung in glittering silver around women’s necks; they were the background to a picture set against a picturesque sky. Never had I seen a cross like this. Never had I seen Jesus’ face in agony. Never had I felt so enraged at this injustice, so shamed by my sin, so loved by God and completely forgiven. My eyes welled with tears, wet tears of love and gratitude no sermon could have evoked. Art has a sacred place in communicating the truth of God.
When we create art, it doesn’t have to be a painting of a religious subject to be deeply spiritual: a picture of a refugee child receiving water or a poem of the heartbreak of losing a child equally draw us to listen, to worship. As long as it is excellent. As we create may God speak to us, draw our attention to the details, whisper the beauty he longs for us to see and to show others.
Whatever we create, may we create more than just an image of God’s glory, may we create as God’s image and to his glory.
Excerpted from God’s Many Voices: Learning to Listen, Expectant to Hear