“What is the creative work of God in our lives?” a friend asked me the other day.
I love this question. I could have been asked something hard like… “What is the work of God?” That would have been question enough. Or “What or Who is God in our lives?” Also a doosy. But add the adjective “creative” to qualify the work of God in our lives, and I’m delighted. I love to talk about God’s creative side.
You see, if I know anything about God, I know She’s creative. And if I have proof of anything in my life, it’s that She’s at work.
I mean, have you read the Bible?
Who takes a tiny rib and fashions it into an entire woman?
Who takes a shepherd who stutters and sends him off to talk to Pharaoh?
Who gives courage to the littlest boy to stand up to the biggest giant?
Whose prophet lies naked in the street for a whole year just to get the attention of the people?
Who takes a loaf of bread and two fish and feeds five thousand?
Who sends a baby in a feeding trough to be the Savior of humankind?
And if you think that’s just good rhetorical style, making a hero out of a fool, a heroine out of the least likely character, fine. Let’s move on to the world around us.
Who painted stripes on the zebra or spots on the ladybug?
Who made the elephant and the bulldog and called them good?
Who gave the nightingale his song, the hyena his cackle and the monkey his screech?
Even the mosquito is a fascinating creation, though I think it might have been a mistake on God’s part.
And could you get much more creative than a duckbill platypus?
And the moon how it shines, silver in the dark sky…
And the colors of the sunset that are never quite the same…
Or the giant redwoods looming to the heavens and the little pansies prettying up the ground…
The magnolia blossom, the Venus flytrap, the white pussy willows cradled against a branch…
All the created world reveals the nature of God, Romans 1 says…
But maybe that’s not evidence enough to the creative nature of God. Romans 1 goes on to say that many will see the natural pointing to the supernatural and still lack faith. So, let’s move on to the work of God in our lives.
Who orchestrates a giant fish to swallow a racist, selfish man and have him spit out three days later ready to convert and love a people he used to hate?
Who heals the heart of a man hidden in a tree, so that he returns to the community four times what he stole from them during his tax collecting days?
Who can change the heart of one who held the coats of those who killed Christians and give him a love for Christ?
And that’s just the Bible. There are plenty of stories in my life and your lives about God changing hearts, changing minds and redeeming the people of God to new life.
Who warms hearts so that in compassion people share what they have with the people around them?
Who forgives a man his wrongdoing and who helps him to forgive those who wrong him?
Who helps a woman learn how to love her enemies?
Who takes the monsters we call teenagers and turns them into decent, functional, and even lovable adults? J
Who calls us gently and softly to a higher living, a nobler cause, a more humble worldview a more just, if upside down, world?
Our God is creative. It takes a lot of ingenuity to make a sinner a saint… Look at King David. God had to use a clever fictional story about a man and his sheep to get King David to realize that he had stolen a woman who was not his.
It takes a lot of creativity to make a boy a man… to make a caterpillar a butterfly… to make a carpenter a Savior.
Maybe God likes the challenge.
Cause it’s gotta be difficult. It’s not like we make it easy on God what with our fighting families and cliquish communities and political wars. With our uneven distribution of wealth, our inadequate healthcare provisions and our inability to even share our food. What with our date-rape drugs and porn magazines and money invested in military weapons instead of schools and education for our children… it’s not like we’ve made it easy for God to be with us. To even find us underneath the layers plastic surgery and smog-filled skies, underneath the layers of self-deceit and aggrandized egos and low self-esteem, somewhere caught in the cycles of poverty and abuse and mis-education, it’s a wonder God can even find us let alone work in us.
And yet, God does. God says yes to us just as we are. And God commits to continue to work creatively in our lives, calling us back to what we once knew to be true… that God is God and we are God’s children.
I love the Genesis 1 account of creation because after everything was created, it says God made humankind and called us very good. I like the Genesis 2 creation story too where God gets down in the dirt and mud and forms a man and then, worried that the man will be lonely, gets a little creative with His creature and makes a woman. Our God not only used imagination to create chameleons and flamingos and bougainvillea, but God was creative with us too. And continues to be creative in the way God interacts with us on a daily basis! God continues to love, forgive, push, sustain, and call us to live faithfully. And so must we muster what imagination we have to confess and one day believe that God is mysterious and God is good. For God will continue to give us stories to convict us, give us nature to humble us and give us one another to encourage us that God is still God and we are still God’s people called to live life abundantly… creatively… and with a little spoonful of imagination.
September 2, 2010