Friday, December 26, 2014

(RE)demptive Creativity

Before the day’s noise and pollution rush in, stillness waits. It seeps into my pores and invites me to inhale Being. It is a pause before the day starts swirling. The early morning’s message is rare but so inviting.

God’s tangible presence in these moments is delight, like a warm, heavy blanket that seeps forth from His spirit to mine, wrapping around my soul, calming my mind, ambitions, emotions. And one morning God showed me his life as a river. Not an expectedly peaceful, quaint little brook, but a roaring, passionate, raging river. Wide and transparent, compassionate and dangerous. Rich and risky.

Stepping into His life, this river, is dangerous. It’s not a great place to stay comfortable. But the
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wonder of this river is its ability to humbly level everything in its path. Every obstacle, every lie, every hint of pride, every daily reality that begs to suck the very life from my core. Our cores.

But the daily realities are some of His greatest shaping, making, (re)creating tools. Creative wonder is often cloaked in the common, if we will only receive.

Redemptive creativity cannot be forged from the outside-in, but must come from an unending, internal source. That is the nature of its re-demptive-ness. It isn’t grown of self or ego but shines from being brought through a variety of elements. An internal river.

The restless side of my own creativity definitely tempts me to grasp for source from the outside-in. I seek the novel, breathe spontaneity and stimulation (and that certainly has its place!), but, true peace, true fulfillment comes from a mind that grips for dear life to unending, internal rest.  Teeth gritted, fists clenched, to trust the internal “morning” stillness.

Redeem.  In Hebrew it is the verb ga’al, to act as a kinsman redeemer, to redeem from death, bondage or exile. In the Greek it is exagorazo, by payment of a price to recover from the power of another, to ransom, buy off. This redeeming is something that is done to us, a foundational element of (re)creation. Why do we need to be re-created?

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O death, I will be your plagues; O grave, I will be your destruction… “ Hosea 13:14

Death. The grave. Emptiness. Separation from God. He redeems us to (re)create us, recover us from death. His redeeming is not simply slapping some better behavior on us, giving us a checklist and calling it a day. Remember, his River of Life is one of dangerous compassion. Dangerous to what we know on our own. He invites us in, he empathizes, and His deep heart breaks over our pain. He is not distant, nor does he want to be kept at arm’s length. No, he doesn’t just clean us up on the outside. He doesn’t want his people just sitting like empty cardboard boxes in a dry pew, sunlight streaming through the windows to settle on particles of dust in the air, while inside, many storms are brewing, un-(re)-deemed. Covered up. No, that’s not who He is. He wants the sunlight to settle on our souls instead.

His river is transparent and uncovers all, and if we receive Him, truly, this (re)creation starts in our spirit, is planted in our soul, and works its way outward. It stems from a deep trust in and hunger for Life. Jesus. Only the fullness of time will reveal its true glory.

Create. What does He (re)deem us to? Life. In order to have life there must be creation, birth.

Create. In Hebrew it is bara. To create, shape, form. God is the subject and we are the object. This speaks of submitting to the one who is doing the (re)creating.  He doesn't redeem us to leave us sitting, hapless until the end of this life. No. Transformation. It's real, now.
 “…by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one humanity out of the two, thus making peace.” Ephesians 2:15 
“For behold, I create new heaves and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Isaiah 65:17 
This is a very real thing, this creating. And the need for (re)creation screams, claws for our attention when we notice the emptiness, the meaninglessness, the need for something, someone, greater than ourselves. The need to exchange our source for the Source. We are always craving Him, even if we don’t realize he is the one whom we crave.

God is so etched in our very cores that we must define ourselves in relation to him somehow. Do we believe? Do we not believe? Why do we have a need to believe anything in the first place?

(Re)creation is not a matter of replacing “bad” with “good”. It is a matter of ransoming us from death so that we might have His Life. Instead of death, He gives us life. Death can masquerade itself as all kinds of “good” things, but in its futility it never trusts Him. Death is the place where lies cover themselves up in faux light to ensnare so many who are thirsty. But the River still beckons.

Death lies to us and whispers for us to never step into the roaring river. Because if we do, we are submerged, and then we emerge as new, alive. A journey of this life working itself out in us.

Real life submits to dangerous compassion, the kind that re-makes us. The kind that would dare to re-make the world. It is His finished work, working itself out in his kids, who he loves with the most ferocious passion. It is his finished work on the cross, working itself out through us, working itself out through all of creation itself.

Life brings rest inside. Singularity and unity of spirit, soul, body. He remakes his children from the inside out.

(RE)deeming, (RE)creating, writing a story that is controversially-stunning, scandalous, wildly alive.

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