the exuberant imagination of God

Imagine if the creation of this world had been only pragmatic. If God had done only what was needed to sustain life, not what would inspire it.  

Imagine of flowers existed in only a few hues, or just a handful of shapes and sizes. What wonder would be lost as we looked across the landscape of a field in the summertime?

 

Imagine if the birds did not sing us into spring time, but flitted around in silence, doing their work without inviting us into their dance.

 

Imagine if land was only flat with no mountains pulling our eyes to the sky, and shadowing our frames in their majesty.

 

Imagine if the wind did not rustle the leaves of the trees, and blow through the lengths of our hair, reminding us that sometimes beauty is felt more than it is seen.

 

Our God created this world from His exuberant imagination. He created us from that same place.

 God's exuberant imagination

 

So often we imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have this trait or that trait. As if it would make us better if we were not ourselves.

 

Would this world be better if it were less than what it is? Neither would we be better if we were not ourselves.

 

When we cannot see that, we need to expand our imaginations. We are beautiful.

 

Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: IMAGINE. (Full disclosure: I write the post in 5 minutes, but I take a little extra time to create a graphic to go with it. I think that's still okay according to the rules...)

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What if We Created more than We Consumed?

My downstairs is a jumble of fabric and thread and scissors and stuffing.  

I am in the middle of a sewing project: making reading nook pillows for my niece’s birthday. To be honest, sewing doesn’t thrill me. I can do it, but it is more detail-oriented than I like to be. The nit-picky details of measuring, finishing edges, and lining things up just-so drains me. But still, I do it. Because it connects me to something I do love to do.

 

Create.

 

When my niece and I went to the fabric store together, it was so fun. We admired colors and ran our fingers over textures as we dreamt together about what her reading nook could be like. Smiles. Possibilities. And now, in my downstairs, results.

 

There is a bolster pillow, pieced together with the combination of fabrics that she chose, that did not exist a few days ago. There is something new that used to live only in our imaginations.

 

Creating is about bringing ideas to reality. I love it. There is such joy in imagination coming to life.

 

Our culture gets it so backwards. It convinces us that it is the consumption of things that will make us happy. We have an obesity epidemic, but it’s not just with our bodies, it is with everything. We stuff ourselves full of objects other people have built, words other people have written, food other people have prepared, ideas other people have dreamed. And we fail to give our own imaginations a chance to come to life. And when we do, we miss out on a deeper satisfaction.

 

When we don’t create, we don’t connect with a core piece of our identity as humans. We are built in the image of a Creator God, who imagined this world and brought it to life.

 

A few weeks ago, I was at the Catalyst conference. The theme was “Make.” At the opening session, Chris Seay echoed the same thoughts. He said, “We are not made to consume, we are made to create.” Yes.

We are all creators.

 

Do you feel like you are living in that identity?

 

My guess is that if you are not an artist, you don’t. The terms “create” and “creative” have been hijacked by the right-brained. But really, these terms are universally true. To create means to bring something into being. We all have that power. We can create a meal, or a system, or a garden, or a party, or a costume, or a piece of furniture. Creating doesn't have to be crafty, and it doesn't have to be stuff. That's the fun. Creating doesn't have to be anything.

 

I wonder what would happen if we all created more than we consumed. How would it change our moods? How would it transform the world?

 

Sounds like a fun experiment.

What if someone paints over our work?

We just moved into a new house. Like, on Friday. If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you’ve seen all my up and down emotions about our transition to Minnesota. Transitions, even if they’re really good ones, are difficult.

After more than a month of living with family, it feels amazing to be back in our own place. It feels especially amazing because we snagged such an awesome house.

One of the rooms that grabbed our attention right away was a kid’s room. The bright yellow walls could be off-putting if not for what was on them: beautifully painted murals of Curious George. On one wall, he is riding on the back of an elephant. On another, he is hanging from a tree. On the back of the door, he is walking away, ready to have more adventures in other places.

Most of the rooms in the house are in flux, half-unpacked as we decide what to do with the space. The Curious George room is the only exception. It is done. The decision was easy.

Curious George beckons my boys to adventures in their new playroom.

One day, my boys will grow older, and we will paint the walls. But right now, in our stage of life, this room is a gift. Curious George will weave his way into my boy’s memories of their childhoods, inviting them to hang on trees and look for adventure.

At the closing for the house, we found out one of the sellers was an art teacher. We complimented her on her work, and told her how excited we were to use the room as a play space.

Her relief and excitement lit up the room. She said she assumed whoever bought the house would paint over the murals. When she learned that her work would last even a little while after she left, her joy was tangible.

It makes sense that she would feel this way. Isn’t this our desire too?

We all want our work to extend beyond ourselves.

That’s part of what draws us to creating. We invite others to see what has only existed before inside our imaginations. We make a dream into tangible art that others can experience with us.

This dream made material comes with a fear.

Now that it exists, how long until it disappears? What if it is rejected? What if something happens to it? What if someone else paints over our work?

Ultimately, like the art teacher who painted Curious George on the walls of my child’s room, we don’t have control over how our work will be received. But, also like her, that should not stop us from creating.

We can lose ourselves in the wonder of making our imaginations come to life. We can create works that impact those within our sphere of influence. And if we find out our work will reach beyond what we hoped, we can let that bring us an extra dose of joy.

There are no Bible verses that I know of about controlling what happens to our work. We are not God. That is outside of our power and control.

What there are verses about is being good stewards of what God has given us. I believe that includes our imaginations. Each of us has the gift of creativity. Though we may do different things with it according to our other gifts, it is there. It is part of how we bear the image of the Creator.

Let’s let go of a little more of the fear, and hold on to a little more of the wonder. Create something today.

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