In this season of lockdown, I have to keep reminding myself that life won’t always be like this. It may sound daft, but my very in-the-now brain is prone to forgetting that life was ever any different. Maybe I’ve always lived on this farm in Monmouthshire? Maybe the furthest I’ll ever go will be the local post office? Maybe I’ll only ever see my friends on Zoom…?
I shake myself. Snap out of it, Abbie. No, life has not always been like this. We are in this particularly weird season because of a virus. And in this weird season, we find God is in the business of deconstructing. So many of our norms, our ways of doing things, our daily rhythms, how we do church, how we build relationships, and so on, have been completely and utterly deconstructed. (Or, as it has sometimes felt; torn apart, ripped to shreds…)
He is surely good and we can trust that this deconstruction is not without purpose. In this strange season, God has been deconstructing so that there is space, time, opportunity and willingness in us to rebuild. It may be clichéd, especially after the year we’ve all had, but God is doing a new thing. Because we serve a good God, we can trust that all this deconstruction is in order to make way for something better.
So, in my deconstructed state, I come to looking ahead, to what God might be building in the aftermath. I by no means have the answers. But, I do believe God is calling His people to creativity. In this next season, where so much rebuilding is required; creativity, innovation and craftsmanship will be indispensable. In this next season, being able to envision and dream with God, and to build those visions, craft those dreams will be the essential work of His people.
Our creator God has made us in His image. So we are, by design, creative. We have the opportunity in the next season to step up to the plate and be the ones who design the future, who build the new. If we don’t, someone else will. In the vacuum of a post-Covid world, the new normal will be rebuilt. It is our absolute honour, as sons and daughters of a good, creator God, to step up and be those designers, those builders, those craftspeople.
In my own life, post-job, and tentatively forging into another season of freelancing and launching two businesses (I know, I don’t do things by half), I find myself, by necessity delving into creativity again. I’ve always been creative, yes. And yes, I did go to art school. But that was, as they say, another time and another place. For the past decade, maybe more, my biggest creative endeavours have been doodling birthday cards and painting my bathroom wall.
Now I find myself almost irresistibly sucked into sketching, designing, writing, creating. And you know what? It feels good. It feels right. But it also feels hard. Creativity is risky. Creativity requires putting your skills, your ideas, your very soul on display. It’s not tried and tested, it’s uncharted territory, and it comes with its own special set of anxieties.
A couple of months ago I had admired a friend’s painting. It had reminded me of my love of abstract art and sparked in me a desire to paint again. I had been looking to buy it, but then suddenly and unexpectedly, it arrived in the post. It simultaneously felt like the most wonderful gift from a beloved friend, but also a gorgeous encouragement from God to keep going, keep pushing into creativity.
This isn’t about how to find your inner creative, or even how to combat anxiety in the pursuit of creativity (if I crack that, I promise, I’ll let you know). No, I’m here to say to you creatives (and that’s more of you than you think), get creating. That quiet urge you had to start writing again, to get the old paint set out, to take a photo of a beautiful sunset, to bake a cake for no good reason…go with it. Listen out for those little nudges of the Holy Spirit and lean into creativity.
It’s not self-indulgence and it’s not time-wasting. Our good God, who has a good plan for our future, is calling you into creativity. Your individual creativity is going to be invaluable in creating the new. After the deconstruction, we have this wonderful invitation to be involved in creating the new; the ways we be church, the places we live, the books we read, the recipes we cook, the songs we sing…
So, let your spirit commune with the Holy Spirit. Start to dream creative dreams with God. And then, and this is the toughie, put pen to paper.