I am pregnant with our fourth child. Our five-year-old daughter all but demanded, upon threat of secession, a baby sister instead of a third brother. But the grainy ultrasound revealed our coming son, miniaturely and precisely detailed, wiggling arms and legs at the very joy of having them.
Within me, God is sculpting a delicate yet hardy human person using my body and diet as the raw materials. Humanity’s most astounding fusions of art and science do not approach the intricacy of this baby’s development. I’m not doing any of the artistic work—just providing the safe haven for its unfolding. But it struck me how easily we see far off, rare, enormous things as impressive and miraculous, while the close-to-home, “ordinary” things are overlooked as drab.
What’s more epic and exciting (and lately, movie-inspiring) than black holes? The idea of wormholes? Nebulae and supernovae? God has ordered the universe so that not only are we safe and well-provisioned on Earth—no small feat in itself as you learn when you study astrophysics—but so that the cosmos are an unimaginably vast, empty-but-full, lumbering sea of mind-blowing oddities and wonders and beauties.
Ever heard of a neutron star or a pulsar? [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrMvUL8HFlM]
Go look! You’ll thank me.
But none of this makes what’s happening on our little big planet any less miraculous. Slime molds and icy-topped mountains and chocolate are proof enough of the marvels with which God has imbued this world. And there’s nothing humdrum or standard about human hearts and communities. People are beautiful and ugly and a million lifetimes would not be enough to fully know and love our neighbor. Even so close to home that it is home, there is much to be in awe over.
God is the origin and ultimate example of this grand-to-familiar scale of wonder, isn’t He? Mighty, majestic, far above us, beyond our comprehension. And yet near to us, defender of the lowly, tender in His love, attentive to every last hair on our heads. God is high and exalted, and in Jesus Christ, humbled to the dust.
If our God of great galaxies and quasars is the God of orphans and raindrops and every little bird that cries out for food, then who are we to snub simple, humble creativity? Who are we to scoff at the normal beauty that fills our days?
If you’re a parent at home with small children, or if you spend 8+ hours a day at an office or job site, you may not have the time or space to create epic, expansive works of art. (If you do, more power to you.) But that doesn’t mean you are not a creative influence in this world.
Every artist knows that their craft requires a lot of hard work and repetition, and even deletions and throw-aways. It’s satisfying and thrilling, but it’s not all prancing in meadows while ideas float from your mind into fully-formed books and symphonies and paintings. It’s labor, it’s birthing, it’s nurturing, it’s launching.
Why should our daily creativity be any different?
This baby I am growing, while not my design, is my work. He will join brothers and sister who are maturing into praise-tuned lives, with help from me and my husband and the community around us. The love and joy we help instill in them is a living artwork.
The simple prayers your children learn from you and offer by faith are a symphony in God’s ears. The simple meal, prepared with abiding love (and perhaps frustration and tiredness too), seasoned with good things to nourish and gladden your family, is a sculpture of finitude and yet radiance. Your faithful attention to your responsibilities in the workplace, in order to produce good for society, is a sonorous mingling of verse and prose and a right offering to God.
Like tiny rivulets that meet up into streams that meet up into rushing torrents, these sometimes unnoticed acts multiply into the most lovely of human triumphs: worship from the mouths of little (and big) ones, homes and communities where God is enjoyed, and truthful witness to a world adrift.
Our persistent, plodding faithfulness in labor is building up concrete and eternal things of beauty. This mundane creativity and its subtle scions mirror our Creator God, show forth truth and goodness, and push back chaos and brokenness. It’s a calling worthy of the investment of our days and our lives.