When you give children craft supplies, they’ll create something. Sometimes they need suggestions or a little help, but you don’t have to teach them to create. They’re born as little kings and queens of creation, with a desire to shape and build as part of their being.
Do you know what else they do instinctively? They give their little creations back to you, or to other people they love. When they’re done pasting and cutting and glittering and stickering, they delight in giving what they’ve made back to the parents that provided the resources to begin with.
They don’t create grudgingly, and they find joy in offering it back to you when they’re done with it. I’m pretty sure you don’t have to look much further than that for the meaning of life.
God created this giant playroom, and he filled it with beautiful things. Then He made His children, and he put them in that playroom, and He set us free to create and shape and build. And when we accept His gifts, and make them into something new and imprint our likeness of Him through our stewardship and mastery over the resources He gave us, the right response is to offer those things back to our Father.
Like the little kid with glue on their fingers and stickers in their hair, delighting in gifting back to the giver, to offer back to God what we’ve done with our gifts is to honor and please Him.
You could take the analogy further: learning to share with others, learning to respect what others have made and not trying to take for yourself what you have not been given or have not earned… We’re all just big kids, with no less of an innate God-likeness or broken sin nature than we had when we were littler versions of ourselves. Only our creations can be bigger and more wonderful — and our sin can be more hurtful.
So what are we to do with our lives while we’re here? We’re to seize with thankfulness and joy every gift from our Father, we’re to shape and create and steward and invent and master the things He provides. And with no less joy, and with a righteous pride in our obedience and humility knowing the simplicity of our offering, give the finished product back to our Father, from whom every good and perfect gift comes. And if instead, He asks us to give to someone else, to some other child of His that He loves, so that they can understand their value and His passion for them, then we should give it gladly, knowing we were used by Him to show others what He is like.
Everything we have is His — but if, when we receive it, we use it in a way that allows us to give it back to Him without shame; if we build, shape and grow it in a way that honors Him, and refuse to use those gifts to hurt others, but work together with them to do the best we know how, then like the proud parent who hangs their child’s art on the fridge for everyone to see, I imagine God smiles on His kids, and blesses them like the Father He is.
It took awhile on this trip — longer than it did when I was younger and less cynical — to be reminded that I love this giant playroom we call planet Earth. And I want to explore every corner of it. And I want to use my gifts, and grow what He’s given me, and share with God’s other kids, and make something out of everything He’s given us. To make the world a better place, to act out His image in me — the image of a creative, generous, righteous God. And to show it to my kids, and tell them the whole wide world is ours…
God made it for us.
Colossians 3:23-24, Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:19