“And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.” Genesis 1:3 (NIV)
I was just a young girl when I learned how to see brokenness more than any other thing.
Even when I could not name it, I looked for it — in the ruin of run-down buildings, in flowers faltering and failing to bloom.
More than just seeing brokenness, I could sense it, could feel it sweeping around me, seeping in and out of me. I was so good at gathering broken things and burying them deep within, until I was no longer just beholding brokenness — it was beholding me.
Brokenness was becoming me.
All of us are born into this brokenness. All of us are birthed and brought into this earth of inevitable darkness, a darkness that burns beneath the bone.
You already know the story of a serpent hissing whispers of shame, of the forbidden fruit and the inevitable fall of man. (Genesis 3) So instead of telling you about the woman taking a bite and breaking the heart of God, I will tell you the story of God’s breaking — of God breaking up the darkness and bringing forth light.
It’s the story of God staring out into the darkness, to which He speaks, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).
It is here where our stories begin. It is here where the looming possibility of the incredibly hard and terrible things that happen in our lives first lingers. Our stories began when God created boundaries to contain and control the darkness and the deep.
We began with the world that God called good but that He still allows to remain with “a sense of wildness and chaos that must yet be controlled,” in the words of Jeffery M. Leonard, Professor of Biblical Studies at Samford University and author of Creation Rediscovered. Of course, that wildness and chaos is humankind’s own fault, not God’s — it's the result of our sin.
Leonard also writes that “God charges humankind with taking up the divine mantle of creating and working to push back the boundaries of this chaos still further.”
It is within this tension of a controlled chaos — not yet completely cast away — that God ultimately initiates tikkun olam. This is a Judaic concept that defines this tension as God’s purpose of leaving room for repair in this world. In this restorative plan, God invites us to participate in the work of pushing back the darkness in this world, of tending to this wild planet, of tending to our own wild hearts and of playing a part in restoring all things to the way they could and should be.
Restoring all things to peace.
This is why your art matters. Every journal entry written, photograph captured, song strummed and graphic designed — every letter penned — drips and drowns with more weight and wonder than you will ever possibly come to imagine or understand. Whether in public or private, we bring forth art not as a way of claiming that we are right about anything but as a way of climbing back toward the light.
God’s plan in the beginning wasn’t simply to save us from the inevitability of sin. His desire all along was that we, just like Him, would live and long to push back the darkness and forever hold our gaze upon His goodness and His great light.
This is not to say we play any role in working for our own salvation. Jesus Christ completed that work once and for all on the cross. Rather, it's the work of the restoration of things (communities, classes, churches, relationships, our own lives) that we are invited into … and art is just one of many ways to do so.
In response to His great love and grace, we will sing and dance and cultivate creativity in the corners of our homes.
We will read books and write our own.
We will pen poems and post photos to our socials.
We will knit scarves to keep strangers warm.
We will find creative solutions to teach our children and tend to the land.
We will experiment with recipes and invite others into our hospitable homes.
We will live our lives courageously, cultivating our art and being captivated by the art of others.
We will know that, in all that we say and do and make, we are coming to know Christ and helping to make Him known.
God, let me hear the sound and song of Your love over the lies. Awaken courage as I live to cultivate creativity. Shine a light onto my heart, and release Your healing into the world through my art. Let it be so, in and through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Cultivate your creativity with Rachel Marie Kang’s new book, Let There Be Art: The Pleasure and Purpose of Unleashing the Creativity within You, which releases October 11!
When you preorder the book by October 11, you can claim the audiobook for free. Click here for more details.
Find encouragement for your art and faith when you connect with Rachel Marie Kang on Instagram.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Amos 4:13, “He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the LORD God Almighty is his name.” (NIV)
In what ways have art and the act of creating brought hope and light into your life? In what ways can you use art and the act of creating to bring hope and light into the world?
We’re always here to hear your heart — come and share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2022 by Rachel Marie Kang. All rights reserved.
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