Created In His Image

Edith Schaeffer is quoted as saying, “A Christian, above all people, should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively.” 

I’ve joked before how I have the soul of an artist but the skill of a preschooler, the desire to create and make something always felt within but rarely finding a satisfying outcome. Of course then I discovered photography and that gave some expression to the desire to create. But sometimes even that outlet hasn’t been enough and I’ve longed for something more, something intangible in a tangible world. The rest of Mrs. Schaeffer’s quote explains it a little better I think:

We are supposed to be representing the Creator who is there, and whom we acknowledge to be there. It is true that all people are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator. If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for our appreciation.

We have been created in the image of the Creator and because of this we should long to create. I know what some of you are thinking though. But I’m not crafty! I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler! I’m all thumbs when it comes to yarn and needles. The sewing machine tries to commit suicide if I come to close. I can’t even finger paint!

We’ve boxed in our definition of art and creativity. But even when we try to move outside the box we have problems. I don’t know how to decorate. I’m not that good of a cook. We have our reasons for thinking that we just aren’t that crafty or creative.

With simple words stars and planets were flung across the heavens. The very sound of His voice caused mountains to break free and rise out of the ground. Every shade of color, every hue and tone sprang from the imagination of the ultimate Artist. Within the ear of God a song was composed and given voice in the waves of the sea and the birds of the air. With His own hands He sculpted man out of the dirt and breathed life into his nostrils.

We will never be able to achieve the artistry that is God.

Michael Angelo, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Beethoven,
Mozart, none of them at their greatest creative moment rival all that God has made. Unfortunately the limitations we put on our definition of creativity and art we also try to impose upon God.  But He exist outside of our bounds and so we must look beyond our own understanding of artistry. It’s not just about the “thing” created but so much more. Consider this quote also from Edith Schaeffer:

“There are various art forms we may or may not have talent for, may or may not have time for, and we may or may not be able to express ourselves in, but we ought to consider this fact-that whether we choose to be an environment or not, we are. We produce an environment other people have to live in. We should be conscious of the fact that this environment which we produce by our very ‘being’ can affect the people who live with us or work with us.” 

We create with more than clay and paint, or words or music notes, fabric or photographs. Everyday we create. And everyday we make choices to imitate what has already crafted by the Master.

We create homes that are a refuge the way He created an ark.

We create new culture when we resist the world’s culture, the world’s way of doing or being.

We create a world of reconciliation when we imitate the dark art of death that produces the kaleidoscope of color and light found in the resurrection.

We create peace when we turn the other cheek and offer the glorious poetry of forgiveness.

We create a symphony of mercy when we love and esteem others more than ourselves.

We create places of hospitality as we open our door and beckon in the poor and hungry.

We create a tapestry of grace when we weave longsuffering through our relationships with husband and wife, child and friend.

We all produce something. We all create. The question is whether it is worthy of presenting to our Creator.

The Burden of Life

Sometimes a burden is both heavy and good. I forget this sometimes.

I forget sometimes that weighty can also be the same as substantial, important.

And something serious can also be joyful, satisfying.

Hard does not always have to mean bad.

Sometimes hard things in life are like the heavy winter quilt that settles around you, weighted in it’s warmth and comfort.

Sometimes hard is the fierce and loyal hug of a friend.

Or the smooshed up kissy face of a two year old pressing in to give mamma some love.

Parenting is a burden that is heavy and so.darn.hard. some days.

Being a wife is hard. Being a friend and neighbor is hard.

Sometimes heavy and hard is the satisfying labor of moving things around and putting stuff in it’s proper place. And that hard work can happen inside our minds and hearts just as easily as working in the garage or a closet.

I want to welcome the burdens in my life…the ones that ground me in His love…to accept their weight of

grace just like the worn quilt that brings comfort.

Burdens mean that He is working His good and perfect will in us…sometimes through burdens that He places on us that are good and right; sometimes through the ones that we pick up and tote along until He tells us to set them down…that we don’t need them.

But they all come from the hand of the Father whose Son calls us to find our rest in Him; the One who says His burden is easy.

Life isn’t easy nor should it be. But the hard will often times yield precious heavy joy~the kind that will last past this earth and into eternity.

I Mean It

The other day I shared an article with a friend of mine on child rearing and housekeeping. We both agreed that there was nothing wrong with the article itself but that we both had trouble with the author’s use of the phrase, “good enough”. Our perception of the term is that good enough is not really, well…good. It’s a lick & a promise and hoping for better at another time. Read in context though, with the whole of the author’s thoughts and you could see that our perception was slightly off. Meaning the issue was us and not the writer.

I find that I feel that way about several different words. Buzz words if you will. Especially with churchy words. Words that you hear bandied about in Christian circles. Words like authentic and relevant. Whenever  I hear those kinds of words I have an instinctive urge to roll my eyes.

Sounds horribly judgmental doesn’t it? Like I am weighing the speakers spiritual life and finding it wanting. But honestly, just like with the term “good enough”, the issue is mine and not the speaker’s.  I just find those words to be used too often…too carelessly. It’s become quite vogue to be authentic and relevant. And seriously who is going to say that they want to live a life, especially a Christian life, that is fake and irrelevant?

The real problem is that often the things we say or do are things we don’t mean.

I didn’t mean to be short tempered with the children.

But I didn’t mean to be patient either.

I didn’t me to nag or belittle my husband.

But I didn’t mean to seek how I may be his helpmate either.

I didn’t mean to ignore my chores or or doing laundry or preparing dinner until the last minute.

But I didn’t mean to keep my priorities in line either.

Several years ago when my oldest daughter was around twelve or thirteen she was asked to unload the dishwasher before going to school. She did not want to unload the dishwasher and it showed in the noisy manner in which she was completing her task. When I corrected her for being so loud her response was, “I don’t mean to be loud.” My response was to point out that she wasn’t trying to be quiet either.

We tend to view the Ten Commandments as a list of don’ts. Don’t lie, don’t kill, etc. But for each negative there is also a positive. We’re charged with not killing and within that command is the admonishment  to pursue life.

In Ephesians Paul tells the thief that it isn’t enough to just stop stealing.

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.  Ephesians 4:28 ESV

He is to stop stealing, certainly, but he is also supposed to work. And the purpose of his work is not for his own good it’s so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. It’s for the good of the community. It’s so he has something to offer.

If we mean the things we say…if our actions have the meaning we intend for them to have…then we will be working for the good of our husbands and wives, for the good of our children, and for the good of our churches and community.

This past Sunday my husband shared this exhortation as we entered into our time of confession:

We live in a world in which good is often called evil and evil good. It is considered a cardinal virtue in our time to be tolerant of sinful behavior, even to defend it. It is a matter of pride for many to go so far as to celebrate what God expressly condemns.
Now, we can pretty easily get most of us on a bandwagon to support what I just said. “Yes,” we’ll say, “everything has gone upside down.” But there is a problem of the same kind that we might be quite comfortable pretending didn’t exist. That is, we often fall into the same error with our own lives. We become comfortable with our own sin; we even grow fond of it. If we acknowledge it as sin, and call it sin, we have to do something about it if we have any integrity at all. But our affection for it deceives us into actually calling sins virtues.
 Our task each week in confessing our sins is to call sins sins, and to agree with God that they are sins – offenses against him. And when we do this, we find that he forgives us and reorients us to righteousness. 

Simply put I want to mean the life that I’m living and many times I need to call my sin sin and to not just let it be enough to not do certain things or be a certain way. If I’m serious about that, then I don’t really have to be worried about whether or not I am relevant or authentic…those things are a by product, a result, of living like I mean it.