Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Exodus 31

My name is Steve Stogsdill. I am a Communications professor at a small Baptist College in Texas. I am also an amateur wood worker, active in church, and a devoted family man, but above all a follower of Christ. I am also an artist.

I started drawing as a preschooler. My folks tell a story about traveling in the car when I was four. Back then we didn't have to wear seat belts or sit in car seats fit for a NASCAR duel. So I had been sitting in the back and looking over the front seat. On the vinyl seat between mom and dad was a road map of Illinois (my home state; I'm now a transplanted Texan). I had a pencil and some paper and so I drew the shape of Illinois, upside down. Because that was the way it was laying in the seat! I can still remember seeing it there and the crude drawing I made.

I've always been drawing and making things. My parents were more than generous with toys at Christmas, but I loved scouring the Christmas wish book toy pages from department stores all year long and would try to make my own versions of the toys I didn't get. Cardboard was my medium of choice, because it was cheap, readily available, and easy to work with. Mom could never find her sewing scissors or any tape in the house. My grade school daughter does the same thing. That's my girl!

My middle brother took to collecting comic books in high school. I would spend hours drawing the characters in those pages and creating my own as well. My dad had a motorcycle when I was a kid and I produced dozens of versions of motorcycle renderings as well. Growing up my subjects ranged from western themes to fantasy themes.

Sometime in high school I came across the biblical passage where God is telling Moses what to build for worshiping God. Elaborate and ornate designs in precious stones, metals, fabrics and woods are described in Exodus. God explains how to consecrate Moses' brother, Aaron, as the head of the priestly family for the Israelites. Then in Chapter 31 God shares an amazing thing. He identifies two men as being anointed and gifted by God with skills in all types of artistry, Bezalel and Oholiab: "'See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur,  of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills to make artistic designs....Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you.'" (Exodus 31: 2-6; NIV; accessed at www.biblegateway.com). 
There were many skilled artisans among the Israelite community, but God specifically says He had anointed these two as leaders to be able to create the materials worthy enough to be used in worship of Yahweh. Wow!

I do not purpose to make every piece of artwork that I do to be used in worship, but I do feel a bond with these two ancients. I do want my work to reflect their devotion. I do want my work to be pleasing to the Lord, and I'm sure it hasn't always, certainly not as a teenager doing fantasy and comic art. But whether I am remodeling our house, making furniture, or doing murals for a church, I want to produce work that honors my Lord. I want my "creations" to reflect the Great Creator whose works are beyond compare!

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17 NIV)

Steve Stogsdill

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