One of the things we will hear a lot in this season is lamentation over consumerism, materialism, and other isms that involve buying things we don’t need. There’s something to be said for that (and people are always saying it, so I feel a little freer to go another direction). I’m one who thinks there’s actually more danger on the other side of that ditch. God is not a minimalist.
He made more than what we need to “technically” survive. We need a certain amount of calories to continue drawing breath, but God made more than rations of foodstuffs to maintain consciousness. God made a world where sugar comes from grass. I don’t know about you, but I am very happy about sugarcane. We do need what’s inside the refrigerator to sustain our life, but man has never lived by bread alone. This is how God is.
Consider a subject other than food. He did more than preserve the species through dutiful chores prescribed, or scientific calculation; he invented a tale so magical it ought to make atheist scolds blush with shame. Yes. That really happens. And then you get a little person who is made in your image, but is her own self. A new being. And her smiles and squeezes make you feel like you are wealthier than Solomon and twice as wise about women.
And when we name that child, “You are…..” we make a new world. When we tell stories –when we sub-create– we are being like our Father. Tolkien wasn’t abandoning God and embracing lies by making a fictional world. He was imitating, in love, his Father’s work.
So too do our little ones imitate us, and the One we imitate. They make even littler worlds, but make them beautifully nonetheless.
We ought to be people who thank God for the sustaining food inside the fridge, designed both for health and joy. (Yay cake!) But we ought not neglect to thank him for the happy gallery of imitation our little image-bearers display on the outside of the fridge. We should embrace the travelogues of childhood imagination in picture form that threaten to overwhelm and conquer the tense border of Missionary Magnets and Football Schedules. Let these little missives of well-spent youth live somewhere a while.
The outside of a refrigerator can be such a sad tombstone of barrenness, the lonely landscape of a well-ordered lifelessness. Little artists are trying to learn how to live under God in an ordered world. Their drawings and paintings really are travelogues, postcards from their journey toward maturity. Whether it’s outside the fridge, or somewhere else, I say let their work be seen. And let them see that God made a world of frosting and footballs, poems and hugs. He made more than what we need to merely survive.
This world is broken by sin and so everything is tainted by death. We who are happily in Christ are part of the New Creation. We are newspaper boys for the New World. And we do more than just give the information about what has happened and what is coming. Extra, Extra! We live our lives with the force of the future working back on us, so that our lives are something more than broken. We are being mended and are part of the mending. We are not concerned with survival alone, but with flourishing.
I want my home to have the flavor of flourishing to wrestle against the taste of death. I want us to be “Outside of the Fridge” kind of people. I think our fridges, in a small way, can help us anticipate the Kingdom. I’m convinced my wife’s cooking is a foretaste. I believe the same about my kid’s blooming artistry.
So hey, don’t move your blooming art.
Note: These drawings are by my son, the hopeful future illustrator.