Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Constant Creation

As my sophomore year of college rapidly approaches, my brain has slowly begun to re-occupy the headspace my Visual Arts curriculum requires of me. As I thought of all the observations being an arts student filled my head with one night, I watched as the sun set through a set of intertwining tree branches. I thought about all the work I had created, observing everything inanimate and living from still lifes to landscapes to the human figure. As I observed the sunset and thought about the One who created it, I thought of a term Michael Gungor had used to define artists: Creators. In his book "The Critic, the Crowd, and the Muse," Gungor revolutionized the way I defined the word "art." So often our society boxes the term "art" into a space that only includes forms of expression like writing, photography, painting, or drawing. In reality, Gungor argued that anything that involves personal vision and passion to do is art. Building a house is an art. Observing and scientifically hypothesizing about the world is an art. Loving people and cultivating relationships with them is an art.

As I thought about the breadth, majesty, and universal quality of such a definition, my mind came back to that singular word: creators. As I began to think about what any creator does in their craft, the awe of the gift we have in being able to take part in the creation of little parts of our lives struck me. The act of creating, be it a photograph, a book, a house, a relationship, and beyond, is arguably the closest we can come to understanding the higher ways of God aside from the act of love. Given the integral role love of what you're doing plays in creating something powerful, it only became clearer to me as I thought about it more what a beautifully introspective insight practicing an art form can be. In some small way, we can begin hearing, seeing, and understanding God's work in our lives through the creative process.

As I thought about the pieces I'd created during my first two semesters that stood out to me, the two qualities that ran through all of them were a quality of hard work and unexpected significance. Most of these pieces weren't finished the first time I thought they were finished, taking copious amounts of reworking and redefinition. Most of these pieces also weren't ones I'd constantly believed had the makings of greatness. Often I hadn't realized my satisfaction with them until a long way into the creative process, sometimes not until the very end. Their creation had not been one single, sudden, defining act. They had taken constant creation to form into what I wanted them to be.

In the same way, when I thought about the times I had felt God most change me, it was rarely when I thought it would happen, and even more rarely did it happen in the way I thought it would unfold. Greater than either of these observations, though, was the realization that I, like one of my drawing pieces that had needed constant reworking and love to reach completion, will never finish being created until I (hopefully) reach Heaven.

One of the greatest doubts I think we struggle with as Children of God is the belief that God's creation of us mirrors that of a DJ who creates a playlist, puts it on to play, and then walks away. We can wrap our heads around a single act of creation, that "before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (Jeremiah 1:5), but that God could continue to know, create, and form us as we live and breathe is a greater, more incomprehensible reality. As life spins in a whirlwind around us, a mix of joy, sorrow, clarity, and confusion, it's hard to believe God's Hands could be lovingly gliding over it all, smoothing out the imperfections and crafting something beautiful like a potter with his pottery.

In a world that is passing and ever preparing for and awaiting Jesus' return to bring it all to glory, everything is in a state of constant creation or re-creation. While we are blessed enough to be created by a loving God and rescued by a loving Savior, sin like a black ink splashed across a beautiful painting tries to darken and mar the inherent beauty within us. So long as this world and life exist, sin will be there to try and corrupt us. Only through allowing ourselves to be a perpetual work-in-progress, a constant creation never finished until the Father completes us wholly, will we be the full masterpiece He intended us to be.

" My future hangs on this
You make preciousness from dust
Please don't stop creating me

Fragments of brokenness
Salvaged by the art of grace
You craft life from our mistakes

Black skies of my regrets
Outshone by this kindness
New life dawns over my soul

Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it's where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven's heart"

Rend Collective Experiment, "Second Chance"