by Rev. Dr. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister
“And God looked at all that God had created, and it was very good.” (Gen 1:31)
There is power in creating. We can feel it when we do it. Maybe it is because we were created in God’s image? Maybe it is because of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us? Or maybe God just made us to be participants in the divine creative process? Either way, we as human beings thrive on creativity.
The Bible begins with an act of creating. The very first words are, “In the beginning, God created…” What did God create? All that we know, all that we see, and all that is. And when God finished, God looked at all that God had created and realized, “Wow, that is really good!”
Have you ever been impressed with something you have created? It could be a piece of woodworking, or a really nice knitting project, or perhaps a home repair. Maybe you have planted a garden or sewn a beautiful garment. Or perhaps you have written a poem or birthed a work of art. Even preparing a delicious meal can be an act of creativity.
There is something that comes over us when we finish a creative endeavor, look back upon it, and realize, “Hey, I did that. And darn it, it’s pretty good!”
I used to do a lot of woodworking. I built tables, hutches, and an armoire. I built all of Seth’s childhood furniture for his room; a matching bed, dresser, and end table. I built oodles of items for church fairs and silent auctions. And there was always such a sense of accomplishment when I finished. Being able to look at something tangible, being able to touch it, hold it, use it, and then realize that “I” made it.
I miss that. I don’t do much wood working anymore. I fix things around the house and repair stuff, but taking a pile of lumber and converting it into something functional and beautiful, that is a whole different feeling. I hope you can all relate with that. I pray you have all had similar experiences in your life, with whatever art, craft, or skill you possess. As I mentioned above, creativity comes through many different skillsets.
Of course, I should also acknowledge that in every project, and I mean every project I worked on, I experienced at least one moment of paralysis. For me, these moments always came at a point of transition in the project. I accomplished a major step, or completed a challenging task, and I just couldn’t continue. I came to realize that this was fear speaking. I was so proud of the work I had done that I was afraid to carry on. What if during the next step I blow it? What if I make a mistake and the project is ruined? What if I carry on and then don’t like it anymore? I began to expect these feelings and recognize them when they came around. I learned to just take a deep breath, relax, perhaps even take a day or two off. And then, after that, I was often ready, and even eager, to get back to work. You can’t rush creativity. It needs to come at its own pace.
And yes, sometimes I did blow it! Sometimes I did ruin a project or force a major turn in direction. But that just makes the success all the more satisfying when it is achieved.
There was a theological movement that came to prominence in the late 20th century called Process Theology. Process Theology is rooted in the creation story, in the idea that when “the heavens and the earth” were created, God was working with the “formless void” and the “deep.” God interacted with what already existed to create something new. This was a mutual process of creation in which God was not creating out of nothing, but rather working with what was already present. Process theology states that this is how God creates, not universally and individualistically, but in partnership with all of creation, including humankind. This means that we participate with God in the ongoing creative process. We are full and equal participants with God (and all of creation) in the unfolding of the future. This implies that our own creative processes (woodworking, knitting, cooking, sewing, etc.) are likely co-created with God!
Can you believe that? Your simple hobby, your artistic endeavors, are part of the divine creation! This leads me to my final thought…question, really:
What are you doing creatively in your life now?
I mentioned earlier that I used to do a lot of woodworking, but not so much anymore. My tools sit idle and my workbench gathers dust. My time now is often spent doing other things. And, frankly, I enjoy those things. But what have I lost in the process? How often do I have the opportunity to look at something and think, “Wow, I made that. And it’s really Good!” How often do you have that experience? How often do you take the time to make something with your own hands, to co-create with God, and think, “Hey, I did that. And darn it, it’s pretty good!”
And don’t let fear hold you back. Don’t not do something because you are afraid it won’t come out the way you want. Have faith that God is working with you. And even if it looks silly, even if you won’t ever show it to someone else, know that it is beautiful in God’s eyes. Because God got to create it with you!