Empty Boxes

    Screenshot 2015-09-23 at 2.19.54 PM - EditedValentine’s Day is coming up this weekend. At our house that means markers, scissors, glue, stickers and oddly cut scraps of colored paper and cardstock. It’s the same at Easter, Christmas and birthday parties as well, and not just the week of those days either. Johannah has been making Valentines since the first week of January.

    I remember when she got her first watercolor set. I’m sure it came in a Christmas stocking and it must have been when she was four years old. We weren’t sure if she was ready for that yet but decided we would give it a try. One picture after another appeared until the dinning room table was covered with drying pages. In just a couple of days the colors started running out and we had to calm her anxieties by promising to get more paint. I was taking the last of something out of a box a year or two later when my father-in-law stepped up beside me in order to block anyone’s view that might be in the living or dining room. He spoke in a loud whisper “Don’t let Johannah see that, she’ll MAKE SOMETHING out of it.” He took the empty box straight out of the house and I tried to hide my smile. I knew exactly what had happened; Johannah had been visiting for nearly two weeks, and every empty box in their house had been turned into animal barns, dollhouses and train cars.

    When we are at home I will loudly announce that I have an empty box and she comes running. Sometimes we have to say “Enough is enough” and put the art supplies away but we very much encourage all of her artistic expressions. When the time comes we will encourage her to learn one or more musical instruments. She enjoys being read to; I wish she was a little more interested in reading for herself. All of the artistic pursuits help develop the mind, causing it to grow and work in new ways. Better grades and test scores are not the goal as much as a well developed mind that can think for itself and adapt to new challenges.

    Most importantly is the fact that all skills and talents are given by God and are meant to be used for his honor and glory. David was a great ruler over the nation of Israel and a mighty man of war. He is also known for composing music, writing lyrics and playing musical instruments. He not only gave us the Psalms but also made musical instruments to be used in the temple for worship. I can play the guitar, I’ve never made a guitar. During the Exodus, God gave Moses instructions for assembling the tabernacle. The Hebrews carried from Egypt everything they needed to build what God described and men and women skilled in working with wood, gold, cloth and needlework followed the detailed instructions Moses gave them. The materials came from Egypt; where did the skills come from? (See Exodus 31:1-11.)

    During the Middle Ages (which used to be called the Dark Ages) churches were small, drab and poorly lit. During the Renaissance, the paintings, statues and stained glass windows we still admire today were produced in Europe. The mechanical printing press helped to advance literacy rates for everyone but it was originally created to mass produce the Gutenberg Bible. Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses about the same time and so it also helped spread the ideas of the Protestant Reformation.

    We have creative abilities because we are made in God’s image and likeness. Everything made by creator God, from the heights of the heavens to the depths of the sea, is for his honor and glory. He hung the stars in the sky and still “paints” each sunset. He made tall mountains and deep oceans. He didn’t just fill the world with color; he created colors and made our eyes to see them. He made the grasshopper to chirp, the oceans to crash, and gave us ears to hear those things. God created sounds, music was his idea, and then he gave us voices. He could have just made a record player but instead gave us minds with ideas, and inspirations, and the ability to create.

    So I see an empty box. Johannah sees a circus train for her stuffed animals to ride in. Glory to God and hallelujah!

About Clark Bunch

Clark Bunch is the pastor of Unity Baptist Church and author of God is Near. He and his wife Teresa have one child. In his spare time he enjoys blogging, playing guitar and riding his motorcycle. And coffee, he'd be nowhere without coffee.
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