Have you ever made something that you were really proud of? A masterpiece of sorts?
When I was in third grade, I created a masterpiece.
In Art class, we had a new teacher named Mr. Stevens. He was a really cool younger teacher. Ok maybe I don’t know how cool he actually was, but to a boy in 3rd grade, a male teacher who isn’t old and boring is super cool. Mr. Stevens was a really talented doodler, and he loved Marvel comics. He would always show us some of his drawings of The Hulk, Wolverine, and others. Spider-Man was his favorite superhero. Spider-Man is undoubtedly cool; he’s a high schooler that can shoot super strong spider webs from his wrists, climb buildings without any gear, and fly through New York City swinging from web to web and building to building. I probably would have thought Spider-Man was cool anyway, but the fact that Mr. Stevens liked him really put me over the top. Mr. Stevens had a ton of drawings of Spider-Man in his classroom that he would show us, most of them were of Spider-Man swinging through New York City.
So one day, after watching Mr. Stevens draw Spider-Man a few times, I decided that I wanted to give it a try. I started with Spider-Man’s eyes and head followed by the rest of his body, very carefully making sure everything was drawn to scale. I finished with the web and the tall Manhattan buildings in the background. It was a masterpiece.
Mr. Stevens had inspired me to create something that took detail and time, and it was the best picture that I had ever drawn (and to this day still might be). But it wasn’t perfect. I still remember the blue mark that I accidentally scratched onto the paper. The drawing got partially crumpled in my classically unorganized backpack. And there were some other spots where I had gotten a tad careless and colored slightly outside of the lines that I had created.
When I look back on that time now, I realize that this seemingly insignificant art class experience was actually teaching me something past how to draw a bomb superhero picture. I learned that creating something is exciting, worthwhile, and takes time. I also learned that everything we create will have its blemishes.
In Genesis, our Creator God creates humankind in the Image of God. Our creative God created creative people. God then blesses them and commands them to create:
“Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.”
In the Bible, the first thing God tells people is essentially this: “I have created all of this for you. Be creative, fill it, take care of it. Go enjoy creation.”
So we know how the story goes, in their creating, they make some mistakes. They had to leave the Garden, and we call that whole tiny part of the Bible the “Creation Story.” But God was far from finished creating, that was just the beginning. Since then, God has continued in the task of creating and so have God’s creative people.
Since the Garden, people have created all kinds of things and very rarely gotten it right the first (or second) time! Someone at some point figured out how to create fire and then someone found what to use it for. People created wheels, irrigation, chariots, and now motorized vehicles, running water, and iPhones. Each person on earth has been given both the ability and the need to create in one way or another.
I have several friends who create their own music. That is a truly amazing thing to me. Not only do they have to be able to play an instrument or instruments, but they have to be able to put the different sounds in an order that sounds good and also an order that hasn’t been done before. A couple months ago I asked one of my musician friends if he thought that someday there would be no music created because everything had already been done before. He said that he believes new music will always be created because there will always be more fusion and influence and creative people.
I like to write occasionally. I don’t always have much to write about, but there are rare times like tonight when I can’t sleep because I have to get a thought out. Writing is a challenge in creativity. Much like music, I have wondered if someday there will be no new literature because there will be no more creative original thought, but the nature of God’s creation is to be creative.
When I create, there are blemishes. No matter how well I did in English class in high school or Freshman Composition in college, when creation is involved, mistakes will be made. Looking back at some essays and posts that I’ve written in the past, I see typos and misspellings (I literally just misspelled “misspellings” three times in a row). I see ideas that I would word differently now than I did then, and I see posts that I simply wouldn’t write at all now.
I suppose that’s how life is too. We move through life, and if we do it right, we create amazing and beautiful things. We create relationships, we create systems, and we create things we’re passionate about. But the creative process is a messy one. As we go on living and creating in life, we’re going to make mistakes. We are going to say something we shouldn’t have said to someone we care about. We are going to go a little overboard and show a lack of self-control. And we are going to end things too soon or hang on to things for too long. These are the blemishes of life.
Often we feel the need to cover up our blemishes, but blemishes are signs of creation and life. Others need to see our blemishes so they know that yes, we are a masterpiece, but we also are still learning and growing. We are still being created by the Creator God who sees and knows every time we’ve accidentally scratched the canvass, crumpled things up, and colored outside the lines. Though God sees our blemishes, God also sees and loves the larger masterpiece that we are creating.
We have been created by the Creator God to be creative people. Don’t be afraid of messing up. God is in the business of creating light in darkness, wholeness in brokenness, and masterpieces out of our blemishes.