You are created in the image of God. According to scripture, you are God’s picture or reflection. You’ve heard the old adage, “he’s the spittin’ image of his father.” That’s what God says about you. The adage is normally said with a southern twang and us Californians can miss what it means to be the “spittin’ image.” The phrase originated as “the spirit and image.” That means not only are we created to look like God, but also to carry God’s essence.

So what does it mean to be created in the image of the Creator God? It means that you too have the capacity to create. This ability to create is intrinsic. We create things, sometimes, without even thinking. We create rhythms in our lives that might include a certain time of day when we pick up the Sunday newspaper (thanks for stopping in). Tomorrow morning, parents will be putting together their children’s lunches before they go to school, that’s creation. When my 7-year-old daughter takes crayons and paper and draws a landscape, suddenly her creation is more than the sum of its material parts. As image bearers, we utilize what God created and build our own creation. It’s beautiful and mysterious.

Psalm 127 teaches that we, as creators, have been given the opportunity to build something with our lives. Whereas a lot of our creation happens without even thinking, we also have the capacity to build intentionally with forethought and follow-through. Successful businesses understand the importance of planning and budgeting and re-planning when things don’t go accordingly. This could be equally applied to many other endeavors.

However, there is also a way to waste our efforts in building. Psalm 127 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” This is a distinction of paramount importance. Yes, we can build, but unless we build according to God’s design, we’ll just be spinning our wheels. The design in God’s Kingdom is justice, kindness and love. If we allow God to build with us, we can actually establish something that lasts.

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It is no coincidence that Psalm 127 is about a house because that speaks more figuratively to our families than simply a physical structure. There isn’t a better area for us to focus our creative energy than towards our families. In fact, the chapter goes on to say that “Children are an inheritance from the Lord.” From a faith perspective, your inheritance isn’t what you leave your kids when you die, but rather that children are your inheritance as you live. Children are God’s gift to you and you ought to build them up.

At Family Care Network, we also see the difficulty that children face when they aren’t built up or haven’t been treated as gifts from God. As a result, there is a huge number of children in Santa Maria that are in need of safe and loving homes where they can heal from past wounds. Despite the tremendous need, we are yet hopeful that our community has the capacity to raise up foster parents that carry a sense of calling and agree with Psalm 68 that “God sets the lonely in families.” Foster care is truly an amazing way for us to love our neighbor.

May these Psalms lead us to build something good, invest in our families and bring in children that are in need of homes.

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Brandon Stiver is a Central Coast native and works in the foster care unit at Family Care Network. Before joining Family Care Network, he spent several years as a missionary in Tanzania. His column is part of a monthly series from Santa Maria Valley faith leaders.