Created to Create
Called or Driven?
The Pecan Orchard
When I was a boy we lived near a sizable pecan orchard. For some reason this lovely grove of tall healthy trees captured my imagination. There seemed to be a deep settled peace abiding in the overlapping shades of those beautiful trees. They had been planted in neat rows many decades before and most of them were still growing. A mature pecan tree can stand more than 100 ft high and spread a 75ft shade. From spring to fall they provided the peaceful glen of shade and strength with the cool shelter of dreams..
In the fall they dropped their leaves and then rested in the mild Arkansas winter only to come to life again as spring came calling. Also in the fall, just prior to the turning of the leaves, they dropped their pecans, a plentiful harvest of 75 to 100 lbs of nuts from each tree. I never joined them but people from the neighborhood would gather them for the owner of the orchard and could keep some for their efforts above the working wage.
For kids like me who played beneath those trees the harvest was never really over. We had snacks aplenty lying on the grass as if put by just for us.
The Person Who Is Blessed
The Bible makes use of the fruit-bearing tree as a metaphor for the life of the Believer.
Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
Though the Mississippi river was a good 8 to 10 miles away, it was responsible for the rich delta soil in which the pecan orchard thrived. They could be called “trees planted by streams of water bringing forth their fruit in their season.”
Called, not Driven
When each of us was knit together in the womb of God’s mind, He shared His creative life with us. Just as God filled the universe with things, seen and unseen, that He simply spoke into existence, we continue to try to fill our worlds with the things we create.
This is a calling, not a drive. It predates the fall of mankind. God pronounced it “good, very good.” Because of sin this calling degenerated into an inner impulse, a drive deep in our wounded souls. Because of Calvary, we can reclaim the joy of being called, not driven. When Jesus comes into our lives, filling us with the Holy Spirit, He heals the wounded parts of us and awakens His calling within us. We are no longer driven by powers beyond our control. We are restored to a state of grace wherein we are called to do creative things. This calling is stronger than instinct but, as powerful as His calling may be, we never lose our choice. Each day we choose to follow Him. At each day’s crossroads, we select the path we will take.
The Productive Path
The desire to work lies deep within each of us, an expression of the image of God in us. We each have sense that there is a work we are destined to do. Two shop-worn clichés really do have meaning:
- Your work really is cut out for you. (Like a tailor with a suit of clothes to make, the pattern has been prepared and placed on the material and cut out; all you have to do is stitch it together.)
- You really do have a row to hoe. (Like a field hand in the hot Delta sun chopping weeds out of cotton, you see the work you have to do.)
Like those stately pecan trees, we were made to produce; created to create.
One of the most amazing verses about The Path of Life makes an amazing promise of an amazing, productive life.
Ephesians 2:10 NKJV
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
The Amplified Bible expands this in greater detail:
Ephesians 2:10 AMP
For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
Another important passage comes from the creation of men and women in the image of God; He is the Creator and we are creative!
Genesis 1:27 NIV
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
In my book, Worship that Pleases God I tried to describe the creation of mankind.
The creation of man was a special event, separate from the stream of creative acts when God called things into existence. God crafted man out of the clay and personally breathed into him His own life, imparting the eternal to time-locked man. A bit of heaven was squeezed into an earthly frame, and a spark, a creative spark, jumped like lightning from the mind and heart of God to the mind and heart of man. (From Worship that Pleases God, SRP)
The Path of Life restores this creative relationship. Opportunities await us on this path, not random accidents of opportunity, but a planned pathway. The worshiper of the Lord Jesus is promised a life that moves from appointment to appointment, all arranged ahead of time (even the creation of time!) by the Lord Himself.
No other system in the world offers such security. Evidence of this is found at the beginning and the end of life:
- A child has a sense of destiny so he or she plays creatively as imagination, unhindered by adult realities, occupies their little minds with huge fun.
- Elderly saints lingering on the dock before the final journey to their eternal reward testify, that “God still has something for me to do!”
Years ago I led worship at a church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where the North Carolina School of the Arts is located. Students from 7th grade through the masters level studied there. Two excellent High School musicians studying there played in our church orchestra and after a rehearsal, I drove them back to the school. For the first time I was inside the extreme security that protected the school. Before I left, I asked the Lord to show me His heart for these young people. I began to weep for them because the rates of success in their fields of endeavor were so small. I felt the Lord’s grief at how they were being ripped off. Most of them would never be stars or even make a living at the things they are training to do.
By contrast, I saw their importance in the Kingdom of God. He never wastes anyone. There are no cracks in the floor of His administration through which anyone will fall. As a pastor of artists and a mentor of those God gives me to teach, I can make guarantees to young artists based on the Word of God.
- God has a place for you! He has called to you to walk on the Path of Life.
- Other people who are walking their own pathway, will come into your life as you come into their lives.
- This is all God’s plan. You are called to walk from good work to good work. The things you will create are lined out for you.
- You can walk in this flow of good works, you can walk away from it, or you can stop walking and let opportunities pass you by. The choice is yours.
Just as the universe is not stagnant but is constantly expanding as The Creator keeps creating, we are called to a life of continual creativity, of perpetual productivity. Like the old pecan orchard in West Helena Arkansas, the church must stand in stately, living beauty in the community. We should be a shaded, restful, peace grove of healthy strong people standing in strength and beauty, bearing a useful harvest in season with the next generation playing at our feet.
Continuing the Work of Creation
Today, God is showing us the Path of Life, enabling us by His Spirit to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4) and to continue the work of creation. While He creates something out of nothing by the power of His speech, we are intended to collect the raw materials of His creation into to our hearts and minds to produce something useful for the world.
So let’s get to it!
We have quite a row to hoe!
And, our work is cut out for us!
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved