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Lara blog

Our creator is a creative: God’s heart for beauty, creativity and renewal

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“Creativity is difficult. When you are being creative, you’re living by faith. You don’t know what’s next because the created, by definition, is what’s never been before. So, you’re living at the edge of something in which you’re not very confident. You might fail: in fact, you almost certainly will fail a good part of the time. All the creative persons I know throw away most of the stuff they do.” - Eugene Peterson

There is something deeply compelling in human beings which causes us to want to create. Whether we are making a taco, setting up a room or garden, picking our clothing, or writing a blog, we make multiple choices which express an innate compulsion to create every day. Much of that creative expression happens with little conscious effort. We stand back at the end of that process, examine the results, and often we can say, it is good.

I call myself an artist – a descriptor which took a while to get comfortable with – but the title is right, because I’ve made a conscious choice to take the creative impulse, pursue it and develop it. Although my creativity is evident in many of life’s spaces, when I work, paint is my medium. And I work towards skilfully creating something new, something that wasn’t there yesterday.

Banner Lent 19 Wk1
Lara's painting, part of our Lent series in 2019

The driver of creative inspiration is the Imago Dei; the fingerprint of God on me, that intangible place where deep calls to deep, the longing for renewal, for the Kingdom to indeed come on earth as it is in heaven.

Lara Cooper

In my own head, it seems to me like my paintings are just paintings, with very little eternally relevant purpose. But then, I am so emotionally close to each creative act it’s hard to have a clear perspective. If I am to think instead about creativity from a broader, less personal perspective, I can see that each act of beauty, each story told, each wrong made right, each truth conveyed, each injustice exposed, each resource shared is actually an act of kingdom-style restoration. It is renewal. Jesus’ life demonstrated this over and over in seemingly small ways. A woman by a well, a little man in a tree, a woman who had bled for 12 years, the sick, the poor, allowing the children to come close. Each seemingly insignificant act was one of doing something new, making something right.

It blows my mind that my paintings could be considered in such terms – creating, restoring, an act of participation in the life of God. An act of worship. And yet, why did I become a painter? Because something in the beauty of another’s art moved my spirit within me to respond. Something rang true and connected me with the heartbeat of God: creative, beautiful, generous, just, hopeful, faithful, and full of love.

When I create, I am straddling the roles of visionary, mid-wife and birth-giver. Being devoted to the process, I wrestle with my vision, and struggle with the medium, definitely with pain and perhaps even with some trauma, to nurture the seed idea planted in some mysterious deep place. It’s an act of faith, and of self-sacrifice to bring to birth that which wasn’t there before; that which beckoned to me from an inner world I am not fully conscious of. It is a small mystery – the germination of an idea which develops to the point of a compulsion to create! From where did it come? The driver of the creative inspiration, I believe, is the Imago Dei; the fingerprint of God on me, that intangible place where deep calls to deep, the longing for renewal, for the Kingdom to indeed come on earth as it is in heaven.

Lent 2019 - Week 1
One of Lara's paintings, which was part of our Lent series in 2018

God is the creator and sustainer of all we know. I recognise that our human life is bound up in a God-initiated and sustained cycle and that stepping into it with respectful intention is an act of worship. We are all creators, charged with the wonderful task of participation in the creative life of God and thereby in step with his heartbeat for the renewal of creation. When I move past my own small-minded engagements, successes and failures and really think about it – actually, how miraculous is that?

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Lara Cooper is a Queensland-based artist and Tearfund supporter