Putting Life in Perspective

I don’t know how many times I have heard people marvel at how they got to where they are, relating how one thing led to another and they “just ended up” in a given life’s work, irrespective of some intentional concerted effort on their part. As a result it can be difficult, even in looking back, to connect the dots and discover some over arching theme that ties everything together.

This verse offers a hopeful perspective in terms of ascribing meaning and purpose to the seemingly haphazard unfolding of our lives. It conveys that there is a creator God, personally interested and actively engaged in arranging the pieces of our lives into a masterful work of art. The Greek word translated as masterpiece here is poiema (poy’-ay-mah) from which we get our English word poem.

What this verse says in effect is that God takes everyone who has entered into a faith relationship with Him through His Son Christ Jesus and crafts an artistic composition from the experiences of their lives. Because of each person’s uniqueness that poiema composition and its resultant message can be as diverse as any creative form, be it poetry, prose, music or the visual arts.

What then is the poiema of your life? What sense have you made of your meaning and purpose? Ironically our own poiemas are not always readily discernible because we are too close to them. It is like trying to see the forest for the trees. Usually it requires an outside perspective and help from God to fully comprehend, accept and appreciate our poiema.

Sometimes we want to make something of our life that is different from what God is intending to make of it. When our poiema is different than Gods we can become frustrated and discouraged because things are not turning out the way we planned. That is why we need a revelation of God’s poiema. Poiemas are more caught than taught. When we finally see it, sometimes we need to wrestle with it for a while to come to a point of yielding our poiema to His and finding a place of acceptance, appreciation and full cooperation with His poiema.

I can fully identify with the poiema struggles of which I write. Although many unregenerate dreams and plans I had as a young man went by the wayside when God intervened in my life, the ensuing years left me at times wondering what if. What if I had pursued such and such a job or moved to such and such a place? You know how that scenario goes, it leads to a poiema crisis and prescription for internal strife and confusion.

Why you are a work of art!

This past week my wife and I visited the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. It is a museum that hosts among things exhibitions of contemporary art. One of the exhibits was a work of art by Robert Gober created in the late 1980s entitled “Untitled Door And Door Frame” and the elements used were “wood, enamel paint.” This particular “work” consisted of two major elements. First there was a wood framed doorway, the only entrance into a white ten by fourteen windowless, featureless room. The door frame was painted with a healthy coat of creamy beige enamel. Inside the room leaning against the opposite wall farthest from the doorway was the second element of the “work” – an old six-panel interior door without a door knob or latch which was also painted a creamy beige.
Like so much of modern art, it takes a right-brained creative to fully appreciate the categorization of certain things as “art.” And this display by Gober, constructed and arranged using such common objects was no exception. Typically when most people think of art they imagine works like the Mona Lisa by Da Vinci or The Pieta by Michelangelo.
To a left-brained home fixit guy like myself, Untitled Door And Door Frame looked more like an unfinished project and anything but a work of art. In my linear, structured way of thinking the paint was dry so why not get the necessary hardware, grab the door and install the hinges and latch set, measure the doorframe to match, install its hinges and mount the door?
Perhaps that is some of the emotional response Gober was looking for when he came up with his idea. I know that good art is meant to be evocative but typically we associate the response of its beholder be one of aesthetic enjoyment rather than frenetic deployment.
It raises a very important question “When is art, art?”

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