I am a create-r. That is, I enjoy building and creating things. (There is only one Creator, and I'll leave the "O!" to Him. So I am merely a create-r.)
This week, it just so happens, I've been building with pipe. Not an elaborate plumbing system. Not a series of tubes for something to pass through. Something entirely different altogether. Think more "mad scientist." But it's for VBS, so I'm entitled a little bit of that.
Saturday night, I finally got the thing to stand up on its own. Not held together by anything but gravity; just testing my design, which had some serious reworking in it. Then Sunday afternoon, I got it. This thing was standing freely, held together more securely, and adorning the majority of the living room (which leaves you to wonder if I have a small living room or a large creation. I'm not telling.).
So I'm standing there looking at it, walking around it, making mental notes about what needs to go next. Then there was this voice: "It works. It's standing. It's fairly solid. It's functional. Leave it." It wasn't coming from my head; it was coming from my couch, where my mom was just ready for me to be done making a mess. (That is creation at its process: large part mess, small part glory.)
I tried in vain to explain that function isn't enough. Structure isn't enough. The majority of craftsmanship - the bulk of creation - is art. It's finding a way to mold the pieces so they aren't just held there; they fit together. It's putting in the work to contour the edges so it's a little more seamless, so it flows a little better instead of looking all haphazard. It's not just making something that functions - it's making something that looks like it functions. No matter how solid the actual structure, you wouldn't lie down in a bed frame that looked like it was about to collapse. Wouldn't set your vase on a table that looked even a little rickety, even if it never wobbled. Appearance matters. That's the art of it.
If you need more proof, just look around you. Look at the way God has painted the sky. Look at the intricacies in a blade of grass, the delicacy in the petals of a flower. Look at the beautiful wings on a butterfly that are both structure and excessive beauty. Can you imagine a sky with clouds that weren't at least a little fluffy? Even a storm cloud looks soft and graceful. Can you imagine the sun giving off light in any other color, the way it would tint everything some other shade and wreck the light? Would you trust in a ground that hadn't been smoothed out, that was just haphazard piles of rock here and there, as far as the depths could take it? Would a rainbow have the same splendor if it sprawled out like the northern lights...or is there something to the art of its curve? And what if those northern lights weren't all-consuming; what if they streaked across the sky like a rainbow? They would lose their glory.
Our God - our Creator - who puts the O! in creation knew that structure was only a small part of it. This world could work without its beauty. It could be functional and dull and grey and a little dangerous-looking. It could have the same foundation, the same support structure, the same everything without the splendor of it. But it wouldn't have the same love. His love - His craftsmanship - is not in having created something that works. His love - His craftsmanship - is in having created something breathtaking. Having taken the time to mold the pieces so that they aren't just standing here; they fit together. Having contoured the edges to make things a little more seamless, to make this place flow a little better. Having made it a point to round out the clouds...because they wouldn't be the same if they weren't just that fluffy. Having delicately painted the wings of the butterfly for the simple grace of beauty.
Art is grace. It is beauty. It is love. And it is craftsmanship at its finest.
In love, art is all the grander. Think of God's greatest grace. His utmost beauty. His full love. His Son - nailed to a cross. There is the structure and the form of a sacrifice that works in a million different ways. There were thousands of other options for the atoning death of a sinless Son. But God chose this - because it was the art of the thing. It was the art of the garden, of a final prayer in the thicket of betrayal. It was the art of a march to Calvary, a beam weighing down on the man it would soon hold up. It was the art of a crown of thorns and the little trickles of blood dripping down a dirty face. It was the art of a body torn open, life pouring out while death drew in. The art of an earthquake. Of darkness. Of curtains tearing and rocks cracking and tears falling. It was the art of an empty tomb...
He didn't need any of that. All He needed was the redemption; it was to honor Creation that He laid it out in art. Because God understands that structure isn't enough. Function doesn't cut it. The best of craftsmanship - and the bulk of Creation - is art. It's carving out His story and etching ours so they aren't just happening; they fit together. It is art. It is grace. It is beauty. And it is love.