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Oct4FriWe are made in the image of a creative God. October 4, 2019 by Darryn Oldford
My brother recently asked me if I regretted giving up learning a brass instrument. As someone born and raised in The Salvation Army, it was expected that I would follow in my father and brother’s footsteps and join the band. I started off on the baritone before switching to the tuba, but it quickly became apparent that musical ability was not one of my gifts. The most generous way to describe my playing was loud—I sounded like a glorified foghorn. So I went on to other creative pursuits, realizing that my talents lay elsewhere.
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One of the best things about being human is how different we are from one another. Each person is a combination of natural talent, training, practice and experience. Because of this, every person is unique and has something to offer the world that no one else can.
Problems arise, however, when we start comparing our gifts to those of other people. I love painting, but I’m no Vincent van Gogh. I love cooking, but I’m no Gordon Ramsay. I love writing, but I’m no Stephen King. And I love singing, but I’m no Luciano Pavarotti. When I compare my minor contributions to some of the greats, I often stop and ask myself, Why bother? What is the point of trying to make an artistic contribution to the world if other people can do it better?
I have come to realize, though, that just as it is in the nature of fish to swim and bees to make honey, humans were made to create. Art is all around us and every person can be creative in their own way. It’s in the wooden Christmas Nativity scene my grandfather crafted for each of his sons. It’s in the baby blanket a woman at church gifted to my parents when I was born. And it’s in the off-key lullabies my mother used to sing to me as a child. (I inherited her musical talents.) All of these gifts were born out of love, and love comes from God. To make something out of nothing, regardless of how talented you are, is to be drawn closer to the heart of our Creator.
Colossians 3:23 reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Ephesians 2:10 echoes this: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It can be overwhelming to realize that before we were even born God gave us what we need to create beauty in his name. One of the reasons we are on this planet is to try and make things better for the world, even if it is a small contribution. Whether it’s baking a pie for a sick neighbour, painting a mural for a church or even singing a hymn when no one else is around, we are joining in God’s radical act of creative love.
In 2 Samuel, King David danced for the Lord as the Ark of the Covenant was brought to the city. His wife, Michal, Saul’s daughter, tried to shame David, who responded: “He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!” (2 Samuel 6:21-22 NLT). If a king can humble himself to dance through the streets while his people stare, what is keeping the rest of us from expressing ourselves and our devotion? I may never be the best at something, and that’s OK. Making art for its own sake, whether it’s a scrapbook or a new recipe, can be an act of worship. It is saying to God, “You gave me this gift and I intend to use it to honour and glorify you.”
And so, to my brother, I don’t regret giving up playing the tuba. I have other creative strengths. But if God ever asks me to play for him, my foghorn will guide those ships safely into port.
Darryn Oldford is a senior soldier in Toronto.
Photo: Comstock/Stockbyte via Getty Images