The hardship of life and centuries of unceasing war in my country taught me to see creativity as limited to being clever, shrewd, and practical to assure life’s security. My Vietnamese family had survived by living that way for generations. But as I grew up, I questioned God about the true meaning of our existence.
After arriving in the United States, among thousands of weary Vietnamese refugees, I found what I was missing and hungered for. The true gift of creativity greeted me for the first time at Wheaton College. I found myself in awe, peering closely at the art works displayed in the sun-filled room above the old college bookstore. I wept when I heard Handel’s Messiah at chapel; and with my limited English, I was pleasantly intrigued by the debates in my Old Testament class. Most surprisingly, I didn’t see cleverness or shrewdness. Instead, I saw God’s pure and glorious presence in the gift of creativity living and thriving around me.
I’ve since learned that creativity takes whatever is at hand, good or bad, touchable or not, and transforms it, not necessarily to please, but in response to an unknown and persistent hunger that dwells deep in the soul. I have seen that men and women (including myself)—Christians or not, privileged or poor, in peace or in war—are still all constricted by the circumstances of our lives. After His own image, God allowed us the gift of creativity to deal with life’s circumstances, such that life is no longer a survival game, but a voyage with dignity and purpose.
The gift of creativity manifests itself most magnificently in Christ’s resurrection. God’s creativity in using the finality of Death to bring forth perfect and eternal life is unfathomable, and in this process, creativity is seen in a different light, not a mere gift, but a unique and powerful one.
Bubbling up within our vulnerable hearts and souls, the gift of creativity yearns to be released and expressed. Should we harness its power so that it will conform to our own idea of spirituality? Can we reign in God’s gift for us, mold it and make it according to what we think right? Or dare we, with the power of His Cross and with the Holy Sprit active and alive in us, allow the gift of creativity to be free to manifest Christ’s own expression in our lives?
Like the star in the night for the wisemen, at the heart of creativity is our Lord leading our souls to Him, whether we choose to know Him or not. We are the sojourners, creativity our steps on the journey, and the Cross our destination.
Like sin and pardon, joy and sorrow, anger and self-control, grief and laughter, creativity marks the authenticity of our humanity. The urge to create makes us restless, yet satisfies, and satisfies profoundly.