Have you ever wanted to create a piece of art? To start with a blank canvas, or a pile of clay, or a sheet of staff paper, or anything else – and just create something beautiful? When I was a little kid, I loved to do just that – to take a blank piece of paper and cover it with my most beautiful drawings. I would give it to my mom, and she would say it was art, then stick it on the fridge with a magnet. In hindsight, they weren’t amazing – usually slurries of color mashed together, or crude stick figures with lollipop trees. But they were my creation, and I loved them.
As I grew older, I began to notice that sometimes other peoples art was noticed more than mine. The other kid’s stick figures looked more like mom, or that his color smears were a little less brown. Instead of making art I loved and my mom loved, I was now trying to create something that was “better” than the other kid. It took many years for me to get past that, and to learn again to create just for the joy of creating.
When I grew up, I relearned something. That I don’t really create anything – everything I have ever made, or will make, was already created. All I did was rearrange the pieces to make it new.
God, in Genesis, created. Everything since then has been an amazing rearrangement of what He did at the dawn of time. The Mona Lisa? Just a combination of pigments and stabilizers spread upon a linen canvas – no creation. Michelangelo’s David? – Just a figure cut out from a rock – no creation. Even Mozart didn’t create – he just rearranged the twelve tones that were on his piano to create amazing works of musical genius.
We, as humanity, cannot create anything. We are masterful rearrangers. We can arrange the materials around us into a seemingly infinite amount of variations. But we can’t make anything truly new. As Solomon said “There is nothing new under the sun.”
God however, has created, and still creates to this day. When God offers us grace instead of judgement, He is creating new life. He takes the dirty color smear that we carry with us called life and examines it, then starts adding bits here, erasing bits there. We learn new things about Him, He separates us from our sin. Occasionally we will do something horrible – tear the painting in anger, or darken it with lust or any number of other sins that we commit daily. It looks to us like our lives, His work of art, is ruined.
But He, in His patient ways, continues to poke and prod, smudge, erase, copy and paste, and all sorts of other arty things. As we return to Him in repentance, He adds new highlights to the darkened picture. It begins to take shape, first looking like us, but then changing as we follow after Jesus.
Paul writes in Philippians 1:6 “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you[b] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” As we follow after Jesus, God reworks the art that is our lives. He takes the scars and pains and the blessings and joys and molds then, shapes them, until when we finally meet Him, all He sees is His Son, Jesus.
As the school year begins remember this – God has taken your scars and pains and uses them for His purpose. That brown smudge that you call life, it takes time to rework it into a likeness of His Son. It probably won’t be easy. But He will carry it on to completion.
Matthew 11:28-30 ““Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Begin anew this year – God wants to create something beautiful out of the dust.