Making stuff exists at the heart of human activity. I compose an email out of 26 letters and a few symbols. You construct shelves in your first house. The chemist mixes ingredients for non-toxic paint, and the baker in town whips together a batch of cupcakes for your roommate’s surprise birthday party.
From raw to refined, crude to carved, we follow in the footsteps of the Creator. We make sense of the chaos.
The best fort I ever made was an underground tunnel in a weed patch in Florida. Sand, a shovel, and vision became rooms and candle-lit passageways and a secret hatch that hid my 13-year-old friends and me in a lair of awesomeness. We were creators, ex nihilo-style. In a similar fashion to what sparked my imagination, a kitchen designer walks into a quarry and sees countertops, not stone.
Artist Bruce Herman says,
"The creation that surrounds us—both the natural environment and the inner landscape of our bodies and minds—is irreducibly complex and elegant in its function and in its forms. From the Krebs-cycle of the human cell at a molecular level to the Eagle Nebula in a far precinct of the universe, the beauty and intricacy of things astonishes and satisfies the careful observer. Craft has been at the core of everything the Creator has made, and the image of God in us is only truly satisfied when we likewise make something beautiful."
I know what he means. Not every day. Often enough, though, to keep drafting new plans and making more awesome. But pleasure—personal or public—isn’t the only reason we bring order out of chaos. We also do it to serve.
Over the next couple of Fridays, you’ll meet an insurance adjuster and two emergency room doctors, all three of whom bring order out of (literal) chaos. Practically speaking, they "preach good news to the poor" and "bind up the brokenhearted" (Isaiah 61:1). Their work is less form than function, yet like the kitchen designer, they see possibility, not merely the stone-cold reality of whatever pain begs for their help.
Go and do likewise
Emily Pilloton, who founded Project H Design as a young professional, combines both approaches: order as art and order as service. After building an educational playground in the poorest county of North Carolina, she "began teaching high school…, using design and shop classes as a vehicle for community development. ‘We're not making birdhouses for your mom,’ says Pilloton. ‘The goal is to allow us to offer summer jobs to our students to build something for the community.’"
It doesn’t take much to realize how the work you undertake can be a response to Jesus saying, Go and do likewise. You simply need to remember. Work, no matter how new you are at the job, can quickly become the grind. With some creativity, a bit of vision, and the heart of the Good Samaritan, you'll turn that grind into something beautiful.
And if that weren't enough, you might even get paid for it.