Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Capturing Creativity

A friend and I recently planned a retreat called, "Capturing Creativity." We held it at a local ranch that is set up to host quilters, scrapbookers, beaders ... basically, anyone who wants to get away to a beautiful and quiet place to "create". Eleven of us enjoyed three full days of quilting, crocheting, crosstitch, crafts, sewing, games, delicious food, meaningful worship and devotions.

Here is the devotion I shared on the first night of our retreat, which lays a Biblical foundation for the pursuit of creativity in each of our lives:

Capturing Creativity

We're not calling this a quilter's retreat, because some of us won't be quilting, but crocheting, crafting, or crosstitching. So we decided to call this a "creativity retreat", which can include any creative project.

Many of us don't feel we are creative. We don't paint, sculpture, decorate, do crafts, etc., but as we will see over the next few days, there is a legitimate Biblical basis for making room for some aspect of creativity in our lives. In planning this retreat, we wanted it to not only be a relaxed "get-away-from-all-the-distractions" time to focus on our creative projects, but we also hoped to take a look at what the Bible has to say about creativity and the arts.

Tonight I'll introduce the topic, then after each of our meals I'll be sharing a 5-10 minute "nugget" focused on one aspect of creativity, with a longer time of sharing in the evenings, and a wrap-up session on Sunday morning.

Gene Edward Veith said in his exellent article, "Stealing Beauty", which appeared in WORLD magazine's March 2004 issue:

"Christians are in a position to recover the arts. This is important because the arts are valuable in themselves, as gifts of God, and because the arts are a powerful means of shaping the culture and influencing the human heart. At a time when current ideologies are undermining what is most valuable in the arts, the Bible can restore them ... The Bible has much to say about the arts. A good part of the Old Testament is taken up with God's detailed commands for human beings to make things, specifically, the designs for the Tabernacle, the Temple, and their furnishings and decorations. The most direct and explicitly Biblical passage about the arts has to do with the calling and the equipping of Bezaleel, the artist in charge of making the Tabernacle:

Exodus 35:30-36:2 says, "Then Moses said to the people of Israel, 'See, the Lord has called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the spirit of God, with SKILL, with INTELLIGENCE, with KNOWLEDGE, and with CRAFTSMANSHIP, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft."

Veith goes on to say,

" given a task by God, who has called him not into some prophetic office...but to work with his hands, to serve God and his neighbors by being an artist."

Veith points out that the:

"main purpose of the lavish and elaborate adornment of the place where God would meet His people seems to have been purely aesthetic. The garments of the priests were to be made 'for the glory and for beauty'. The splendor of it all would glorify God and would offer a glimpse of the glory of the courts of heaven. As such, beauty is an end in itself."

We often won't pursue a creative project unless it is to be given as a gift or used in ministry of some sort (which are, of course, wonderful reasons to be creative). We sometimes carry around needless guilt over being artistic, maybe because we are having so much fun! But when we look at God's directions for the building and decorating of the tabernacle, much of what was used was purely for beauty's sake in and of itself, to reflect the glorious beautiful character of God. God was extravagant in the decoration of the tabernacle, and when we look around at all He's created here on earth, we see He has also lavished upon US His extravagant beauty in all of His creation, from the tiniest flower to majestic mountaintops!

It is obvious God values color, texture, melodies, aromas ~ BEAUTY! As Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands."

Some truths we can glean from the passage in Exodus, and also from Veith's article are:

  • God highly esteems art.
  • The desire to create and work with our hands comes directly from Him.
  • One of creativity's purposes is to reflect the glory of God, giving us a glimpse of His nature.
Edith Schaeffer's book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, laid a strong foundation in my early married life, to consider all the creative aspects of homemaking. Edith challenged me to:

  • See the home as an incredible place in which to demonstrate the creative nature of God.
  • Understand that God is the original artist.
  • Know that God, the creator of the universe and everything we see in this world, indwells within us. We bear His image, and that includes His attribute of creativity, even though it is spoiled by sin.
  • Embrace the knowledge that it is not a waste of time or a selfish pursuit to delve into some aspect of creativity - it is simply expressing who God is.
I love what Edith said about creativity:

"Each of us has within us the capacity to express in some form, what others can see, hear, smell, feel, taste, understand, enjoy, be stimulated by, be involved in, find refreshment in, find satisfaction in, find fulfillment in, enter into. Art satisfies and fulfills something in the person creating and in those responding."

So we hope this weekend will give you a glimpse of creativity as God intended it, and that it will increase your desire to "work with your hands" to create something beautiful.