Creativity is not what you do; it's how you do it.
The instructions for, and then the descriptions of, the Tent of Meeting in Exodus can be a little tedious to get through. The altar is about as big as my desk; the table, closer to a nightstand. The lamp stands are all made out of a single piece of metal, hammered to have a certain amount of flowers in certain areas. The tent is so many feet long, and made in several sections, and joined together by rings. Everything has rings in it, actually - rings to connect it together, rings to hold carrying poles. If you like it, you better put a ring on it because that's how the Tent of Meeting rolls. And all of these instructions are very specific. God tells His people, through Moses, exactly how it's supposed to be.
And then, there's this one little verse in Exodus 28 that makes you stop. As God is laying out all of these very specific measurements and requirements for His dwelling place among the wandering tribes of Israel, He also says this:
Do it creatively.
Most of us would say that this is contradictory. Especially us creative types. We would say that you simply cannot tell us exactly how something is supposed to be made, down to the very measurements, down to the finest details, and also tell us to be creative with it. Either you want things exactly a specific way or you want us to be creative according to our gift to do so. But it can't be both. It can never be both.
God says it must be both.
God says that there is a way that things must be, there are things we have to do in the world exactly as He tells us to do them, but that there is still room for us to put our own unique - creative - touch on things. The man who God gifted to do all the work of the Tent of Meeting not only made all of the elements of the Tabernacle to God's specifications; he did it in a way that nobody else could have done it. He didn't just weave together the different colors of fabric and yarn; he wove them together creatively. With his own unique spin on things (pun intended). He didn't just hammer out the flowers in the lamp stands; he shaped them in his own unique way.
God provided very specific instructions for how the Tent of Meeting was supposed to be constructed, and we think that this means that essentially anyone could have done it. But the truth is that when God also said to do it creatively, He was saying that no two men should ever do it the same. The Tent of Meeting, as Israel came to know it, would not have been exactly the same if any other man had built it.
It was God's design, but the craftsman's handiwork.
The same is true for us, whether you're a creative type or not. God has called you to do something in this world, something specific. Something probably so specific that it seems like maybe anyone could do it in just the same way, with the same result. But that's just not true. Because whatever God has called you to do, He has also called you to do creatively, and that means that even if the entire world undertook the same project, no one would do it exactly the way that you do. No one.
If you're one of tens of thousands of those God has called to be a financial advisor, you are not just another one. You are specifically one. No one else advises finances in exactly the way that you advise. If you're one of tens of thousands of those God has called to be a pastor, you are not just another one. You are specifically one. No one else pastors exactly the way that you pastor. If you are one of tens of thousands that God calls to be a parent, you are not just another one. You are specifically one. No one else parents exactly the way that you parent. Whatever it is that God has called you to do, do it creatively and know that no one else can ever do it exactly the way that you do.
Love creatively, according to the gift God has given in you.
That's God's plan.
This world as we know it - the love, the grace, the mercy, the joy, the community, every good thing about it - is God's design. But it's our handiwork.