Thursday, March 8, 2012


            I like to make things out of wood. Recently I made two sets of coasters and several trivets. The coasters are made out of oak and walnut. The trivets are made out of oak, walnut, cherry and maple. Actually I started out to make a cutting board. After I had finished the first one, I did some research on how to finish a cutting board. I discovered that oak is not used in cutting boards because it is an open grain wood and would collect bacteria. Bummer! So my would-be cutting board, made out of oak, walnut, cherry and maple became a trivet.
            After I finished several pieces I brought them upstairs to show them off to my family. Over the past week or so I have showed my work to a number of people. I always feel just a little awkward doing that, yet I have an overwhelming urge to display my handiwork. So I find myself caught in an uncomfortable spot. I don’t want to seem like I am bragging or showing off. On the other hand, a person makes beautiful things to be seen. An artist paints a painting for the world to look at. A potter makes vessels to be admired and used. An instrument maker produces instruments to be played and admired.
            As I have puzzled over this (minor) dilemma, I have realized that in some ways my desire to show off my creations comes from my father. I’m not talking about my earthly father. I’m referring to my Heavenly Father. The Bible tells us in Genesis that we were created in the image of God. Part of what that means is that we were created to be creative. And part of being creative is showing off what we have created.
            God has not been shy about showing off what he created. In fact in the creation story found in Genesis 1, as God came to the end of each day, he stepped back, took a look at what he had done and boldly declared, “That is good!” King David picked up this theme in Psalm 19. Look at the opening lines of that Psalm.
            The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalms 19:1-4a (NIV)
            It sure looks like God wants us to notice what he has done. The Psalmist uses power words; declare, proclaim, pour forth, display. God is putting his handiwork out there for all to see. Although we cannot look direct at the glory of God, we can see his glory reflected in what he has created. The quality, detail and complexity of his handiwork speak of His character. God does not do shabby work. God doesn’t do the minimum to just get by. God goes beyond excellent to amazing, and He wants everyone to know it. No one is excluded from God’s art show. Everyone is invited to stand in awe of God’s creative handiwork.  
            One of the ways that we can glorify God is by being creative. Creativity is not about being productive or useful. Creativity is about producing something of beauty and delight. Creativity isn’t a job; it can’t be orchestrated or mass produced. Creativity is play at its highest level. What we produce may indeed be useful and productive, but that is not the goal. Creativity is about partnering with God to take something that is “formless and void” and shape it into something that is filled with life.
            Creativity is limited when it is kept in isolation. Creativity is unleashed when it is freely shared with others. This is not an ego trip (although it nurtures our egos). This is delighting in reflecting the image of God that is within us. Creativity is as diverse and unique as we are. What is creative to one person is a bore to another. What is a delight to one person is a burden to another. What is effortless to one person is a chore to another. Yet collectively, as we share our own unique creative contributions, we more clearly reflect the image of our creator God. There are thousands of ways to be creative. Each way exposes another facet of God’s amazing creativity.  
            I like to work in wood. It is my hobby of choice. I continue to learn to do it better. With each piece that I create I experience a measure of joy and delight. With each piece I share with someone else that joy is enhanced. I made a number of trinket boxes, which I had hoped to sell at a craft show. Each box was unique. They were made out of oak and walnut. None of them was perfect; each contained some flaw. Yet each box reflected my creative efforts. On the bottom of each box I put the reference Colossians 3:17. I hoped that those who purchased a box would see the reference, look it up and be encouraged. I didn’t sell a single box. That was OK. At Christmas I gave many of them away. I actually experienced greater delight in giving my work away than I would have received from selling it. I should not be surprised by that. My Father is in the habit of giving away His handiwork as well.

Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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