I had no idea what to expect when I boarded a plane to Athens with Edmund in March. What transpired has left me thinking about how big this world is.
How amazing people are.
How often I sell people short in my thoughts.
How creating the visions in a mind can impact the world.
After visiting ancient sites—the Acropolis, the Olympic stadium where Greek Olympians trained and competed, the meticulous artwork of St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, smaller churches, the Pantheon, and Flavius’ amphitheater (a,k.a. The Colosseum), I’m humbled.
In today’s world where almost everything is as close as our fingertips, the time, the intentional investment of energy, talent, and devotion that the creators poured into their projects made me feel small.
That wasn’t the intention of the creators of all the places we visited. They influenced the people of their time. Their determination to complete their projects is something we don’t always see today. The years invested to build and create are not required with all our technology. And sometimes, I wonder if we have lost something.
Even though I hate the sole purpose of why the Colosseum was built, the builder had it completed in eight years. and it’s . . . Amazing. The seats, the stadium, the beauty of the place, how it’s endured through centuries and weather and earthquakes are rather amazing.
I’m in awe of how God gives each human being the capacity to be creative, to influence their world . . . in big or small ways. He’s made us in His image, and that includes expressing our view of the world as we know it.
Michelangelo and his vision of bringing certain Biblical scenes to life on one wall and the ceiling of the Sistine chapel left me breathless. His vibrant paintings elicit deep emotion. He didn’t see life through sterile glasses, but through passion.
The Greek amphitheater in Epidaurus was created in such a way that one can stand in the center of stage, speak without a microphone and be heard to the very top of the open-air theater. And none of this was done with modern technology. Hewn rock makes up the seats, and the arches and columns give it a regal appearance. World-renowned performers still perform there today.
The ruins of Pompeii reveal how brilliant the people of that time were. Cobblestone streets, elegant bathhouses, shops, a sports field, the beauty of the columns, the etchings on walls, and even the unique designs within in the homes demonstrate people acting within the creativity that reflects their Maker.
The thought that caused me to pause was that those who built the Acropolis, the temple of Nike, the Parthenon, The Pantheon, and so many other masterpieces didn’t build them for God’s glory. Even though it was He who gifted them with the vision and ability to coax that vision into reality.
He didn’t throw a fit and yank back the gift. The Lord allowed them to operate within the abilities, even though they used it for human motives. These masterpieces still reflect His creativity today, leaving thousands of visitors in awe.
How do we reflect God’s imprint in our DNA? Do we use the unique gifting He’s planted within each of us? Do we live each day reflecting His essence? I write. Others paint. Others knit. Others draw up blueprints for buildings. Others use numbers.
We each have the capacity to influence our world. Whether “our world” encompasses our neighborhood, our families, our city, or even broader borders. The question is, will we use what God has given us to leave an enduring mark on those whose paths we cross?
Will we be brave enough to step outside our familiar circle and create? Maybe what we do won’t endure in a physical sense like the Colosseum or the Sistine Chapel or the ruins of Pompeii. But maybe the way we express ourselves will impact another life in an eternal way.
It’s not about the numbers of people, but about how we use what God has given us that matters.
So, what are you going to do to influence your world?
What about you? What wonders of the world have moved you? How do you influence your world?
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Fabulous post! Your emphasis on creativity and our likeness in the image of God made this so powerful, especially when we consider that most of the treasures you were able to visit and to interact with weren’t built for the glory of God. Those done much later in commission to the church were, such as Michelangelo’s work. The earlier Greek artists created for the sheer beauty of it and for the good of the people. They did it so well! Much of their artistic knowledge was lost to us for centuries after the Roman empire collapsed, peoples were scattered, and plagues and hardship gave no one time for art. None of the knowledge was passed down. Finally during the Renaissance, artists rediscovered how to work with marble. It’s really astonishing when you consider it and the amount of time and labor that went into each building. The ancients accomplished so much! I’m so glad you were able to see all of those treasures! What a gift!
Melinda, thank you so much for stopping by! You’re right. We did see artwork in the Vatican, and the Sistine Chapel, and God’s influence was so obvious! I think that’s why I loved it so much. The ancients did accomplish so much. I think seeing them up close and personal made that truth very real to me. It was a gift to see all that we did. And I loved doing it with my son. 🙂 I hope you have a beautiful Mother’s Day!
Same to you, Jeanne! Happy Mother’s Day! You’ll be blessed by that trip with your son for the rest of your days!
You ask such a good question. What are you going to do to influence your world? It makes me think of something that is very important to me and that is legacy. What I am leaving behind that points to how I honored God or lived my life well? This post could develop into so much more. Thank you for leaving me with so much to think about.
Mary, influencing our world is such an intentional effort, isn’t it? I really appreciate your thoughts on legacy. I’ve been thinking about the legacy Hubs and I are creating in the lives of our boys, our nieces and nephews and those who people our world. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here!
I love seeing my creativity as an extension of who God is. Visiting you from the tell the story link up today. laurensparks.net
Lauren, it’s kind of an amazing thing to see this aspect of God’s character woven into our own, isn’t it?? Thank you so much for stopping by!
I loved this, Jeanne. Seeing others’ creations is so inspiring to me! I see God’s hand in them just as I see God’s hand on nature, which is such a beautiful thing.
Great pictures in a thought-provoking post. God made me a creative being. Writing, speaking, acting, cooking are all ways I influence my world. I’m using everything God gave me to leave an enduring mark on those whose paths I cross.
Yvonne, owning that you are a creative is so important, isn’t it?? I love that you have so many different means to influence your world. I imagine God sees you using the gifts He’s given you and He is well-pleased. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by!
Beautiful and thoughtful post, dear Jeanne. What an amazing adventure you and your son
had together. I echo your desire to “leave an enduring mark on those whose paths we cross.”
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac
Wendy, it truly was an amazing adventure. I’m so glad we were able to share it. And I pray that, in time, the memories and impressions will leave an enduring mark on my boy. 🙂 May you and I both be ones that leave that enduring mark on those who God allows to cross our path. I’m so thankful for you, sweet friend!
We surely do. Thanks for your always perfect encouragement.
Thanks so much for stopping by, sweet friend!
Jeanne, beautiful photos and I appreciate that you shared them! I had to come back tonight and tell you this is the question you had me pondering today>>> “will we use what God has given us to leave an enduring mark on those whose paths we cross?” I pray my life leaves an enduring mark – the love of Jesus – on those in my life. Blessings!
Joanne, I pray that same prayer. I suspect God uses you, your love for His word and your ways of conveying His truths to influence people greatly. Thank you for coming back. You are a blessing!
It always amazes me that people managed to create buildings of such size and beauty without the technology we have today. It does show something about God and his creativity even if they weren’t attempting to honour God in what they were doing, and it’s true we do all have the ability to influence others and leave our mark in different ways. I appreciate this reminder to be intentional in thinking about how.
I agree with all you said, Lesley. It was amazing to see the buildings, structures, and art ancient people created. There were places in Greece where elephants were used for some of the heavy labor, for a period of time, anyway. I thought that was creative problem-solving. 🙂 May we both be intentional in following the Lord’s promptings to live out the creative bents He’s given us.
What a beautiful place! And love this post. I do run across those who think they are not creative at all. Yet, being made in the image of God we are all creators, aren’t we? Creating does not have to in be the ‘artist’ way as one often associates creativity with just painters, writers, movie-makers etc. But creativity can be organizing cupboards or solving that math equation, or …it’s endless really! I work in the dental industry and a dentist creates when drilling that enamel to create the cavity walls perfectly for the composite materials to fill. I guess that might send shivers up the spine for some readers. 🙂 Yes, there is creativity everywhere!
I thought about those self-proclaimed “non-creatives” as I wrote this post, Lynn. We are all creators, it’s just the gifting doesn’t always show up in the traditionally creative sense, right? I agree with your definitions of creativity. Thanks for highlighting those!
Wow – your photos always just leave me speechless. And so dreaming of a trip abroad! So much beauty…and lessons that can be learned. We do all have the capacity to make an impact! It’s rather sobering. And convicting. But, goodness, isn’t it exciting as well!!?:)
Jennifer, I hope you get to take some trans-oceanic trips. Seeing other parts of the world is fascinating and humbling and pretty much amazing (in case you couldn’t tell my opinion on this). But, on the flip side, I know God has lessons for us right where we live as well. I’m trying to be as open to those as I was to the things and beauty He showed me in Europe. 🙂
I’m still enjoying your pictures, Jeanne. Our giftedness is certainly from God. We were created in His image. And I’m amazed sometimes when I see and hear about what people have done. And it makes me wonder how much more amazing it would be if done through the influence of the Spirit for God’s glory. Yes, we can influence our worlds. Thank you for sharing this.
Thanks, Stephen. I agree! Wouldn’t it be amazing if those people who do amazing things all did it for God’s glory? Whatever our giftings, may we use them to point others to Him. Thanks for your kind words.
Wow, this is beautiful and inspiring, Jeanne. I love the photos and the depth of meaning with which you describe what you saw on your trip. This question is such an important one to ask ourselves: “Do we live each day reflecting His essence?” And it’s encouraging that “It’s not about the numbers of people, but about how we use what God has given us that matters.” Thank you for this necessary reminder! Love and blessings to you!
Trudy, thank you for your encouraging words. I have to remind myself often that the thing that’s most important to God’s heart is how I love and reflect Him to my world . . . however large or small it is. May we both use what God’s given us to glorify Him! Love and blessings back, sweet friend.
It amazes me how childish I am. I want quick fixes, instant gratification, and definite answers all the time. But there is something so powerful in this idea of investing ourselves in the process for the sake of beauty and creativity.
I might be hanging your head as I read your words, Rebecca. I, too, want quick fixes and instant done-ness and definitive answers. But God . . . His ways are higher and better. And there’s something to be gained when we have to seek and research and trust Him for the timing, even when we ourselves are creating.
Love your pictures. It is amazing how long some things endure. I remember walking through the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and thinking wouldn’t the inhabitants be surprised that we are looking at them today, all these years later. One way I think I am influencing the world is through my children.
I agree, Theresa. The enduring-ness of structures and statues and art amazes me and makes me feel very small. I chuckled at your thoughts about the ancient natives of the Mayan ruins. I agree. As moms/parents, we have a unique opportunity to influence our children. And who knows how God will use that as they grow into adulthood??
Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos. I am continuously in awe of the glorious creations God provides for us to enjoy. From a hummingbird to a waterfall to people and more…we are blessed by Him.
I’m with you, Melissa . . . continuously amazed at God’s beauty in creation . . . and in what He allows humans to create. I love your focus on nature, too. 🙂 We are indeed blessed by Him!
Jeanne, I’m thinking today of Notre Dame Cathedral, which WAS built to glorify God. How it’s endured for 900 years, and how people around the globe wept when they saw the flames. I think about the arts in general — sculpture, painting, writing, drama, and that relative newcomer, photography — and how the work lives on even after the earthly artist dies. God has allowed us to express ourselves through the arts so we can influence our own and possibly future generations. It’s humbling.
I was off social media for a few weeks, Easter and a temp job. It is nice to hear from you again.
Kathy, the day I saw the steeple in flames, my heart twisted. I’ve never been there, but yes, there’s a ton of history there. It was so sad to see the plumes of smoke. And yet, look how many millions have been donated to restore the cathedral. It’s pretty special how God moves on hearts to restore, but that’s another blog post, I’m thinking. Thank you so much for your visits. I always enjoy reading your thoughts!
Wow. I feel like I’m tagging along, right there with you, Jeanne. Your journey, your stories, your snapshots are truly oh so inspirational and awesome.
Thanks, Linda. It was truly an amazing trip. I loved taking photos and hearing the stories of the tour guides, and watching the people. And of course, eating the food. I’m thankful God showed me things about Himself I doubt I would have seen any other way.
Incredible pictures, and some really thought provoking ideas here, Jeanne. And what always intrigues me is that God has doled out the giftedness and the creativity as common grace. Some of the most brilliant minds in history have used their brilliance to deny God.
His ways are higher than mine–and beyond my understanding.
I love how you mention God has “doled out” creativity and giftedness as common grace. I never thought about it like that before. I’m thankful that God’s ways are higher than ours. Even when we don’t understand His ways, we can trust that He knows.
We DO each have the capacity to influence our world. I hope I use my influence for good and for God’s glory always. Your post reminds me of the song we used to sing at Sunday school so many years ago “This Little Light of Mine”.
And I had no idea the Colosseum was built in 8 years. Amazing!
I am guessing you do use your influence for good, Laurie. On your blog, and on the trail, I have no doubt God’s light in you influences those with whom you interact. And that song was my absolute favorite when I was a little girl. It’s a good one! May we both let Jesus’ light shine brightly through us.
Wonderful pictures…and this one really made me think. Looking at oneself with clear eyes is not necessarily pleasant, but it IS, at the end, necessary.
I thought that I would change the world,
and that sure gave God a laugh.
My life through its disasters swirled,
and ambition took a bath.
I failed at nearly all I tried
and screwed up all the rest.
‘Loser’ was more than implied,
in each and every test.
But that’s OK, I’m not ashamed
’cause someone. I guess
is the bad example to be blamed
that encourages success.
Instead of trophies on the shelf,
I’ve come to terms with myself.
Awww, Andrew. You are not the bad example in every area of your life. Your creativity flows through your poems, your song choices, and your caring interactions with commenters. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, my friend. I’m praying for you.
Jeanne, I truly appreciate your encouragement. I’m trying to come to terms with a life that didn’t go all that well, certainly not the way I planned…and to be undismayed bythe failure.
Don’t know if that makes sense, but I have the feeling that therein is something important, a knowing that is necessary.
Andrew, this does make sense. 🙂 I suspect, if you were to ask anyone, they would share that they have regrets and things they wish they’d done differently. I appreciate that you can view your life and know there are failures on your path. Choosing to be undismayed is a tough thing, but in the end, it’s a good thing.
When I see you, I see what you’ve shared from your past, but I also see the transformation God has brought about in you. And it makes me think of Phil 1:6 and how God completes the work He began in each of us. And the work He’s done and is doing in you and through you is powerful, my friend.