We have looked at Israel's history in Egypt the last few weeks. This week, let's look at a story from the Wilderness as the Jews made their way into the Promised Land. In Exodus 31, the Lord was giving Moses instructions of how to construct the Tabernacle that would be the focus for Jewish worship during their journey:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent—the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand—and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you" (Exodus 31:1-11).
I have written about this passage before when we have discussed creativity, but let's look at this passage again from a different angle. You can see that God gave Bezalel and his colleagues great creative ability. My question to you concerning their creativity is this: Was their creativity optional, or was it their job, even their duty, to create? A second question is: If Bezalel and company had not created, would they have been disobeying the Lord? (Obviously, they would have been disobedient not to work on the tabernacle, for God commended it, but I am talking about being creative in general, practicing and honing their creative skill over time.)
I ask those questions because some people treat their creativity as a hobby, something they will do when their real work allows. They will "get to it" when the kids are grown, or when they are under less pressure, or when circumstances are right. People with this attitude believe that it is the Lord's responsibility to make time for them and to create the circumstances that will allow their creativity to flow and flourish. If they get to it, fine, but if not, it's no great loss.
The answers to these questions are important, for they will help put creativity in its proper perspective, that it is not just something to be pursued as a side interest but to be taken seriously. The other interesting point about Bezalel et al. is that their creativity would not be seen by many people, for the tabernacle was the work place of the priests, and the Holy of Holies was only seen by the high priest once a year. God did not assign just any artisans to work on what He would see; He assigned the best. God has every right to have you produce creative expressions for no one else but Him - not for sale or for the literary or artistic pleasure of others.
How do you view your creativity? Is it front and center in your life, or is it a side show? Do you work to make it better, or have you left it in its raw, primitive form? Do you see it as a mandate from the Lord, or something that you take or leave it at your discretion. I have made the choice to embrace mine as God-given, and have given it a place of priority in my daily life. I encourage you to answer the questions I have posed this week and see if God wants you to join me in the life decision that I have made. Have a great week!