This morning I thought I would jump online and post a few of my observations from each chapter we read last week. For Chapter One, along with my “Fruit & Seed” observation from yesterday, I also noted this:
- The Garden is not mentioned in Genesis Chapter One. Why?
- God created mankind at the end of the Creation story, not the beginning. Why?
- Verse 31, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and INDEED it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (NKJV)
I guess what strikes me from these three observations is the intentionality of God and how much I assume in my reading it from a perspective of what I’ve been taught all my life. There is no Garden in Chapter One. But, verse 31 brings afresh something I’ve told myself many times, “God glories in His creation.” He knew how it would come out – even the fall and the plan of redemption and sacrifice necessary to make that happen. He knew some would not choose Him, but still in all of that He shares with us, “…God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” God sees the big picture, more clearly He sees the Kingdom outcome and INDEED, IT IS VERY GOOD. Hold onto that a while.
- God planted the Garden eastward of Eden. Not so much the Garden of Eden, but instead God’s Garden near Eden. 🙂
- One River ran through the Garden, but when it left the Garden it broke into four headwaters: 1. Pishon; 2. Gishon; 3. Hidderel; 4. Euphrates. The river’s original purpose was to water the Garden and out of that river four rivers flowed.
- Adam’s responsibility in the Garden was to tend and keep it. Among those responsibilities Adam also name all the animals God created. I have heard it before, but I am seriously struck by the audacious nature of that task. How long did it take Adam to name them?
- God set boundaries for the man in the Garden. Why does God set boundaries?
- Verse 25 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (NKJV)
Our original intended design (both male and female) was to tend and cultivate God’s Garden. You know throughout Scripture people can be identified symbolically as trees, as a field of wheat, and so on. God’s Garden is planted in a field of lost souls. We are to tend God’s Garden. Plant His seeds in it, cultivate it, help others to realize the harvest in it. Our job is not only to tend it, but to keep it.
I asked God about the boundaries in the Garden and He said, “Boundaries keep you safe.” Enough for me. I’m also struck by that last sentence of Chapter Two. Sin and the Fall brought shame and regret – not God. They were both naked and not ashamed. What is that like, God? When we are in right standing with God, we are veiled in His righteousness through Jesus Christ. We are naked and not ashamed. He gives more honor to the less honorable parts. Let that sit on you for a minute…
I am also developing this sense of awe in my heart at the creative nature of God. I’ve known about it, but I’ve never really been in awe of it before.
I think about how I “learned” to paint. Well, save only the one year of high school art where my paintings lacked dimension and scale. I mastered “recreating” the human face one time in my entire study of art. Everything I ever produced in human likeness had a caricature quality about it. In school, I drew beautiful roses that I never finished, and well, I learned a variety of shading and drawing techniques that have been useful over the years. Still, it was all basic. Through the years, I’ve dabbled in painting with acrylics on small plaster figurines, walls, and craft art. I’ve drawn, doodled and sketched. I loved using pastels, but found it messy, messy, messy. My painting in the early days required lots of newspaper and water to clean up the mess.
Art quietly subsided in my life in the early years of my marriage to Scott. Life took on new meaning while work and family seemed to take up more and more of my time. Until one day in 2003 when an odd Bible study assignment reawakened my desire to sketch out life on a sheet of paper. The assignment: Draw what you think Jesus looks like.
A few years later I set out to decorate a room in our old church for a new support group I intended to host for grieving parents. I labored and painted the room a soothing sea foam green color. I added seaside accents and in lieu of spending a lot of money on artwork, I went to the local Hobby Lobby and unloaded $50 on several canvases and a set of acrylic paints with brushes. I would paint.
Mind you, all my real artistic “canvas” type painting had taken place in my high school career and brought forth B- results. I really had no idea if this would work. What’s more, I had hoped my painting would reflect LIGHT. Lots of it. I started painting and a few hours later I stepped away from a canvas that had a lighthouse in the darkness shining light out all around. It looked magnificent to me. And others really found it appealing as well. I painted several more pictures of a boat beached on the shoreline and of a sailboat being tossed on the waves. I coupled this with odds and ends picked up from Hobby Lobby and our local garage sale queen.
By the time I finished those paintings, I asked my director at the after school program if I could try teaching some of the kids to paint. Or, maybe she asked me. I’m not sure and would not want to get caught fibbing.
At any rate I began with a set of water colors and blank pieces of manila paper and started to teach these kids to paint. Not only did it stir the creative juices in these kids, but it brought life to me. I felt alive and accomplished and quite satisfied as I looked at their paintings. I emphasized to these kids that art is not about getting the definition exactly the same as the model, but instead about recreating what your mind sees. Recreating what is beautiful in what you are trying to paint. Eventually we graduated to pencil sketching and acrylics on canvas. Each time the kids blew me away with their creativity and expression.
We held an art show at the end of the year complete with classical music and an opportunity for me to speak to the families about the art exhibit. I also shared the Genesis 1:1 creation story from the Message. I explained that the creativity expressed in their child’s art is part of how we reflect God’s image and creative nature to the world. I asked them to encourage their child’s artistic nature and desire to express it.
I prepared little manuals with examples of great artists: Picasso, Renoir, Degas, Monet, and well I had to throw in a little Thomas Kincaid and Jackson Pollack. 🙂 After all, we couldn’t leave out the painter of light, and some of my students were very young.
We displayed the art on folding exhibit boards and included the artist’s name on each board. (I made everyone sign their paintings because they are artists, and artists always sign their work-Oh I just had a God thought, but I’ll come back to that.) Beside each board was a slip of paper – the attendees were encouraged to determine which master the child most resembled in their paintings. We awarded ribbons and prizes to each of the kids who participated and they took home their artwork with their proud parents by their side. All of them swelling with a sense of pride as some of the greatest artists in the world. And if I tell the truth – each one of them, in their own right — REALLY WAS. Not because everybody needs to win, but because each one of them risked it. They got out there on the ledge with God and let Him work through their perspective to express Himself in their art.
What impressed me the most about these kids: the way they would follow rules to be a part of my group. Some of them were in fifth grade and rough’ n ‘tumble boys at that. But, they were drawn in to art. To creating. That spring became a powerful season in all of our lives. And, I don’t know where it came from, but for God.
By the end of that summer, my husband and I had “moved our letter” over to Gateway Church and I have not taught art again, but I continue to recreate just as He showed me to do those warm spring days in 2007.
So now for the nugget about artist’s signing their paintings. God’s fingerprint, His image, in us is His signature on our lives. There is a deep thing in us that is God created, God driven and God satisfied. We will spend our wealth, time and our energy trying to fill it with other things until we discover the end of ourselves and our utter inability to satisfy something so deep that only God can suffice. He created us to need Him. That is His signature. It is to His glory that we live and breathe and have our being. Without Him nothing lives, nothing takes on life. We are a pile of dust and ashes without our God.
I’ll be back with more musings from the first twenty-one of Genesis tomorrow. Until Then… Be Blessed.