The Artist’s Use of LightBlog / Produced by The High Calling
“O Light Supreme, so far beyond the reach of mortal understanding, to my mind relend some small part of Your own self, and give my tongue such power to capture a single spark of all your glory that I may leave for future generations . . . ”
In his final canto of the Divine Comedy, Dante envisions asking the Creator to spark his creativity. That creative yearning is not exclusive to the world’s Dantes, Mozarts, or Michelangelos. For the Christian, in fact, the question is not whether we have a call to create, but how that call informs our work in this world.
In Genesis 1—and in perfect freedom, we read—the Great Creator uttered bara (in Hebrew): “let it be.” The sovereign unfolding of bara reappears in later Old Testament creation stories . . . in the creations of a covenant, a nation, and a future. The Great Artist’s “let it be” also appears in the New Testament creation of the Word made flesh (John 1:14) . . . and finally in the ultimate redemptive act when, in Christ, we are a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17) and the work to the Artist is fully restored.
Genesis 1:26-27 reveals that we are made in God’s image for ongoing conversation with Him. In the moment that He marked the individual, referred to as the imago dei, our very natures were shaped to mirror the Master Designer. And our desires to create were set.
That beautiful first creation story, of course, hit an immediate crisis. Succumbing to temptation, Adam and Eve blurred the lines between Creator and creature. Attempting to “re-create” their own outlines and circumstances, they chose to “be like God”—not unlike modern attempts to recast our selves, our families, or our own lives in our own image.
Personal re-creation fails precisely because as Psalm 139, echoed in Ephesians 2:10, reminds us: we are His workmanship, His signed art. The Hebrew word is yatser, implying a potter’s creation. Rather than re-create ourselves, we are to receive the work of art He created us to be. In the receiving, we find the particular gifts He has lavished on us to do the work He calls us to do.
John 6:29 tells us “to believe in the One He has sent,” the Word that re-creates us. From that transformation, the Light of the World dances through the prism of each person’s unique design, colors, and borders.
Dante knows that he must be filled with the Creator’s light—and that the Light will emerge through the prism of Dante’s unique voice. Dante yearns to be both tool and work of art—both brush and final canvas.
“We who all reflect the Lord’s glory are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory,” Paul writes in 2 Cor. 3:18. The use of our received creativity actually re-creates us as it transforms our understanding of what we bring to our world. The Creator invites each of us to bring our imago dei to our daily work to reflect His glory in this world as only we can.
The artistic challenge in each life work is to be not Mozart or Michelangelo but to be God’s unique design for that unique call (1 Cor. 7:17). In those places, all ground is holy and every assignment a potential liturgy of worship. All ordinary offerings assume eternal significance. The mundane becomes the miraculous.
In the midst of darkness, God calls you to hold Light as only you, in His image, can reflect it.
And every common bush afire with God
But only he sees who takes off his shoes,
The rest sit around and pluck blackberries.
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Incarnation calls Christians to banish the ordinary from life and “have it to the full” (John 10:10). The gifts we receive are our canvas, score, blank parchment—and our means for worship.
“Live, creatively, friends . . . Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. (Gal. 6:1, 4-5 The Message)