God created EVERYTHING from nothing, ex nihilo.
Wood, metal and horse hair.
Ears, eyes and hands.
Vibrating air waves, light waves, and nervous systems that register them.
Now we get to play with these amazing things that he brought into being. We call that play creating. Creating music, creating sculpture, creating dance.
But... compared to God's ex nihilo creation, it feels more like rearranging than creating doesn’t it? We play with what God has already created. Yet we say we work in the ‘Creative Arts’, and there is a sense that we make something new when we play.
We are made in the image of the Creator God so it follows that we try to create too. But we are not Creator Gods and if we forget that we end up dismayed and defeated by our own inability, or deluded about our own power which can be even more destructive. We are also creatures who are created by the only ultimate Creator.
How can we be free to joyfully, thankfully be creative with what God has ultimately created without becoming dismayed or destructively deluded?
Looking to the Hebrew
In his book, Why Art Matters, artist (and ex-UCCF staff worker) Alistair Gordon unpacks a few key Hebrew words from the Old Testament which help free us to be truly joyful in our creaturely creativity.
Bārā is the Hebrew word for 'create' and it is used five times in the creation account. Notably, bārā is only ever used when God is the one doing the creating. The Bible uses other words when humans create. Ali writes: 
If we were being particular about it, I suppose we shouldn’t say we work in the Creative Arts. Only God is the Creator. In a way, we might do better to say we are in the Making Arts or the Worship Arts – simply the workers or the bringers-forth.
You may be relieved to know that Ali does not avoid using the word ‘creative’ when referring to humans for the rest of the book - that would be rather impractical. But he does remind us that God is the ultimate Creator, and now we get to play with the amazing things He has created!
So how does the Bible describe creaturely creativity? Here are the three Hebrew words that Ali mentions:
‘āśâ means 'to make'. Whereas God created from nothing, we make from things that already exists. For example, this word is used when Joshua made knives from flint, when Ehud makes a sword, when Gideon casts gold to make an ephod, and when Samson and David prepare an elaborate meal. These people were all tasked with making something well.
‘ăbōdâ refers to 'service' or 'work'. This is often hard work, such as when the Israelites were working as slaves for the Egyptians, and also the work of serving God in the temple. If we work in the arts industry (and any other industry!) there are times of really hard graft and of service.
Yăṣā’ means 'to bring forth'. There are some lovely examples from Genesis: the plants of creation bring forth fruit, and whilst she is pregnant Eve sings that ‘with the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.’
We can conclude that God is the ultimate Creator, the only one who creates ex nihilo. As His image-bearers and stewards we are wonderfully tasked with playing and working with what He has created. This creaturely creativity will include making things well, working hard, serving, and bringing forth new things. As Paul writes:
We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are part of God’s creation and also called to do good, make good, serve well, work hard and bring forth good things within that creation! Our work and play, our art and music, our creative attempts can point to the bigger, better and more beautiful work of God which offers full hope and restoration for humankind.
When we embrace this vision of our creaturely creativity, we are free to joyfully celebrate the goodness of God, and to set to work in that joy.
 Gordon, Alastair, Why Art Matters, (IVP, 2021) p. 39.
 Joshua 5:3, Judges 3:16, Judges 8:27, Judges 14:10 and 2 Samuel 3:20.
 Gordon, Why Art Matters, p. 49-50.
 E.g. as slaves: Exodus 1:14
E.g. working in temple: Exodus 27:19 and 1 Chronicles 6:38.
 Gordon, p. 50.
 Genesis 1:12 and Genesis 4:1. Gordon p. 50-51.