Wilko Johnson, vintage rock guitarist of pre-punk Dr Feelgood recently had a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Rather than resigning himself to this, Wilko has recently teamed up with Roger Daltrey of the Who to produce what many rate as his best album to date.
As a frustrated rock star, now well into the second half of my life, I find it wonderful that this man, who doesn’t need to do any more, is not going out quietly, but producing his best work. You may not like the music, but the drive to be creative is fundamental – we all have our version of it – our contribution to make. In the one life we have, we need to live it richly, fully, taking every opportunity to give back to society, to the generations to come, and to life itself, the fruit of the gifts we have been given.
For Christians, this aspiration to live fully is the fulfilment of what is called ‘the cultural mandate’, the command to Adam to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’. Often misunderstood, this command really means to take hold of all life – and particularly those things in which we have particular talent, to shape it well, and to offer it back to God, developing not only ourselves, but the creation. That contribution may be the running of a business, growing fruit and flowers, engineering roads and buildings, creating wonderful food, making paintings, or music, or thousand other things.
We do this in the confidence that life matters – in all its multifaceted wonder, and that we, though infinitely small and transient, nonetheless have place in the universe which no-one else can fill, and that living it before God will produce the very best results. And those things offered to God, become in his goodness, part of the life to come.