Naphtali is a doe set free; he gives beautiful words. Genesis 49:21
In this unusual blessing/prophesy about his son, Naphtali, Jacob is speaking to what I would call a biblical mandate to artful, creative living. Freedom, beauty and truth are the three most important elements in art and artful living. Yesterday we established freedom as a prerequisite for creativity. Today we look at the balance between beauty and truth. Jacob is telling Naphtali that he is going to be a man of “letters.” Words — communication — are going to be important to Naphtali and his tribe, but not just words … beautiful words.
Look at the natural world God created and it is quite obvious, beauty is important to God. Nature can literally leave you breathless. Why did God bother with that? Because beauty is part of Him. God is not hideous. There are grotesque, deformed aspects of His creation, but these are the result of sin — of humanity turning away from God. This is the whole creation “groaning” as Paul reveals in Romans 8:22, waiting “eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” When God completes this redemption process, all will be beautiful, outside and in, because that is not only beauty, it is truth. Truth can be ugly, because that’s the way things are in this fallen world, but truth can also be beautiful, because that is what God is still creating and redeeming out of our existence.
Marti spends a good deal of time getting ready to present herself for the day. She does this whether she’s going out or not. I call it watching beauty being maximized. She’s already beautiful to start with, so what she does is enhance what she already has. Why does she do this? It is her nature. Though she spends a good deal of time, as I do, with words as well, she also spends time with beauty, because it is important to her. I don’t worry too much about how I present myself (she thinks I should do a lot more about that) because I am mostly into words, but even then, I try to make the words come together in a beautiful, creative way. I want people to enjoy the experience of reading. I realize that truth is also beautiful, so I try to capture some of that beauty if I can.
So think about this: when you are taking time to make something beautiful, be it a room, a card, a meal, a paragraph, your face, a website, a speech or a garden, you are dealing in the divine. You are doing what God does, and that should make you feel purposeful and rewarded.
My friend Dan Russell, who has made a career promoting music and managing musicians, is, at the sunset of his life, fulfilling a lifelong dream making his own album. We talked about this on his BlogTalkRadio interview a few weeks ago. Knowing Dan, this will be a thing of beauty and truth, and all the truth may not be entirely pleasant. Some of it may be painful because our fallenness is part of the story, but part of it will be hopeful and redemptive as well. He just released the art for the album which features a portrait of him painted with oil on aluminum by Cheryl Kelley. If you look at his eyes, they capture a knowledge of the pain of our existence which will, I’m sure, be captured in the music. Dan has always hurt with the hurting part of the world. But the artwork is absolutely stunning and captures the beauty of truth at the same time.
Naphtali is a doe set free; he gives beautiful words. Dan is sensing a freedom in this stage of his life to do what he’s always wanted to do, and what he does will be characterized by beauty and truth. He will give beautiful words. Dan is a Naphtali.
And so are you. How will you express your “Naphtali” today? You don’t have to make an album to be a Naphtali; it’s all in how you live.