You Are An Artist
This past Sunday I preached about how God creates us to be co-creators with God---to join God in the creative work of embodying the kingdom of God to the world.
Even as I spoke the words of that sermon I knew in my heart that there were people listening who thought it was a fine sentiment, but they hadn't the slightest idea as to how they could ever pull that off.
I get that. In fact, we all get that.
My youngest son Jacob used to draw. He would take half of the printer paper out of the printer in our house and fill them with elaborate drawings of imaginary battles, space scenes, knights, and dragons...
We have a bulletin board that used to be filled with his latest creations from both home and school. And then suddenly about a year ago, he stopped.
My wife asked him recently why he didn't draw anymore, and he mumbled something about how he wasn't good at it. We protested and told him that we loved his work and that he should keep doing it, but he wouldn't hear of it.
We realized then that at some point, someone had told him that his creations weren't very good. It was probably a classmate---kids can be cruel about those kinds of things. But still... he internalized it and in his mind that was the end of the matter.
The joy had gone out of it for him.
I recently read a quote from Madeline L'Engle that made me think about Jacob and the look on his face when we talked to him about his drawings, and it made my heart hurt. She said this:
All children are artists, and it is an indictment of our culture that so many of them lose their creativity, their unfettered imaginations, as they grow older.
I can't tell you how many adults I have had conversations with who declare to me, "I don't have a creative bone in my body." They came to believe the lie that there is no art within them... that they can't tap into their innate creativity.
But if you had asked them if they were an artist when they were small, they would have undoubtedly answered with a resounding "Yes!"
While it may be true that not many of us have the ability to draw, paint, write, sculpt or express ourselves through a musical instrument, each of us has all of the creative resources we could ever hope for within us... because we are imprinted with the Divine DNA of the Creator, who continues to create.
We just have to reconnect with our truest selves in order to realize our creative potential.
The poet Thomas Traherne once wrote about how he lost his childhood belief in his innate creativity, and then how he began to find it again. He wrote:
So that without much ado I was corrupted, and made to learn the dirty devices of this world, which now I unlearn, and become as it were a little child again, that I may enter into the kingdom of God.
In this quote, Traherne draws upon the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:3-5, which read like this:
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Basically, Jesus is telling his followers that they need to unlearn everything they think they know about God, faith, themselves... and return to a time when they were quite simply more in touch with truth, beauty, goodness, and love.
He beckons them to return to a time when they hadn't yet begun to believe the lies about themselves---lies that told them they weren't good enough to be a co-creator with God.
Lies perpetrated by the "dirty devices of this world" teach us that we are too broken, too messed up, not old/young enough, not smart enough, talented enough, or capable enough to be used by God to show the light of Christ.
Listen... I'm going to tell you one of the truest things you will ever hear...
You are an artist. You are more than capable to live into your holy purpose. You have all of the resources, energy, imagination, and creativity that you could possibly need because you are created in the image of God.
And God is a God who never stops creating, making things new, restoring lost hope, repairing what is broken, resurrecting what was left for dead.
Go and create today. Go and embody the kingdom of God. Forget the naysayers who live in your head chattering away. You are enough.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.