You're made to build something. It's why you're here.
Have you ever stopped to think about that? Do you know what it is that you're building?
The story in the beginning of the bible, about the beginning of everything, is endlessly compelling to me. Libraries could be filled with what has been written exploring the simple yet magisterial poem that opens up the bible narrative. So much of the biblical worldview of what it means to be human we learn first from Genesis 1-3. It struck me recently while reflecting again on this piece of ancient literature on how significant it is that God reveals himself the way He does...
He could have revealed himself as a master with his minions, or as a warrior with his army, a teacher with his students, a crafty magician with his spellbound followers...
But instead, he reveals himself as a Creator with us as His Co-creators.
Let that sink in. That's the sort of idea worth ruminating on....
As God reveals Himself to us, he shows us first that He is unbelievably, breathtakingly, majestically... creative. With simple words he ushers into existence the Whirlpool Galaxy and the icy nordic lakes, every quark and colour and contoured mountain range, every lion, llama, and leprechaun...
(ok maybe the jury's still out on that last one...)
And then, the Genesis story shows humanity as God's chosen Co-creators. Genesis 2:15 reads:
"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it.”
Now, unless farming is your thing, that sentence might not excite you at first glance... However, the word "work" in the original Hebrew is 'avadah' which can also be translated as "cultivate" or "develop" or "draw out something's potential".
I once heard Christian philosopher James K A Smith describe this reality by saying creation is something like the sail of a boat furled up: it's complete in one sense, but needs to be 'unfurled' to be experienced and seen as designed.
As is so often the case, Tim Keller puts this idea into words sublimely in his book "Every Good Endeavour":
"...And that is the pattern for all work. It is creative and assertive. It is rearranging the raw material of God’s creation in such a way that it helps the world in general, and people in particular, thrive and flourish. Whenever we bring order out of chaos, whenever we draw out creative potential, whenever we elaborate and “unfold” creation beyond where we found it, we are following God’s pattern of creative cultural development."
So, the bible story has this idea within it that we as individual humans are specifically and intentionally placed in this world which is full of potential and raw materials, and we're invited to participate in 'unfurling' creation, cultivating it's potential, and creating culture.
There' is so much in this. But for now, I just have two questions for you.
1) What are you created to create?
At times it might be helpful to look at this in terms of your whole life. What are you uniquely gifted to create in the world? What is being made when you're at your best?
Often, this might seem daunting or too ethereal and macro. So, what are you created to create this month?
It might be something tangible and practical - something carved, or engineered or crafted. But, in 2018, it's just as likely that what you need to make can't be touched and seen.
Maybe you're uniquely positioned, right now, to be building up your son's self esteem and sense of self worth. Maybe you're 'called' to craft the best Flat Whites in town. Maybe you're the person to take ownership of building your work group's office culture and sense of team identity through some post-work pints. Maybe you can start creating a new process for your organisation to train, equip and empower it's people. Maybe you can create a campaign to advocate for some meaningful change in your town or city. Make you can produce a new idea that might change a small part of the world in a big way. Maybe you could craft a new business, birthday cake, book or blog!
2) What's stopping you?
Most often, I think it's either a lie, or a fear.
The lie might be: "I'm not creative."
Perhaps a common concern, but it's not true in the Genesis, biblical sense. If you're human, you are creative: you have certain gifts or skills that mean you can add something meaningful and significant to this world.
The fear might be: "What if other people don't like what I make?"
I think there's always a sense of vulnerability when birthing something new into the world. It'll take courage (choosing whole hearted vulnerability in the face of risk) and conviction (belief what you're creating is worth the 'risk').
To be honest, I've had to keep fighting that fear while putting this website and blog together. But I've had to keep reminding myself that I'm not here to gain popularity or curry favour... I'm created to create.
And so are you.
Two books that have really shaped my thinking around this: