As I sat in the living room floor wrapping Christmas packages, I noticed that every few inches or so of this big roll of economy wrapping paper was imprinted with copyright information and the year. Now, I paid all of three dollars for this roll of paper, so it amused me that somewhere in the Library of Congress records, this roll of disposable (and not particularly fancy, I might add) paper has a registered copyright that says no other human being has a right to claim credit for the design except its creator. And my rabbit-trailing imagination pondered how many government employees, vast computer networks, and file cabinets are responsible for cataloging and keeping track of the billions and billions of items registered just like this one. Why, even the roll of adhesive name tags was imprinted with little © symbols on each one!
I can appreciate the beauty of the copyright. For the professional who relies on copyrighted works to make a living, I must concede that it’s a good thing not to have one’s hard work lost to someone’s thievery. A few years back, being merely an amateur freelancer trying to break into the world of works for hire, I guarded my first few songs and compositions like a lioness with her cubs. I dared not unveil my latest masterpiece until, months and months after I’d duly completed the paperwork and mailed in my fee, I would receive the documentation with the official seal on it that certified this creation was mine and all mine. Over time, however, when the publisher was unable to find an artist to record my first “big” song, and my editorials had to be non-gratis just to make their way to the public eye, I came to value that seal of authentication less and less. Now, I’m pretty much happy just to see my works not go to waste…and I’d probably be more flattered than angry if one of my works were plagiarized! Ha!
We are so taught to prize affirmation in this society, to be credited with every accomplishment, to have a “like” for every random thought we post. We crave it. We feel we need it. We dare not share our glory with another, and Heaven forbid that it might be said someone else thought of our idea first. We have a figurative hope chest filled with all the things we pull out, on occasion, to remind ourselves that we made our mark and that we matter to the world.
And yet…as I ponder eternity and the Christmas message, the little “c” in a circle gets smaller and smaller, until it’s an unrecognizable speck on the page. Truly, the only One who has a bona fide claim to ownership rights is our Creator. A loving Father, Who sends His Son to earth to pay an ultimate price to redeem fallen mankind; a Creator Who has every right to demand what’s His, and yet He installs in each individual masterpiece something unheard of—free will.
I think, as well, of the given Son, Who lays down His claim to rights and privileges when He leaves a throne to don a rabbi’s shawl and some well-worn sandals. He forfeits, for 33 ½ years, immunity from suffering, sickness, and mortality. For that span of time, He permits mankind to do their worst to Him—and they do.
So today, as I give this copyrighted wrapping paper its one and only moment of glory in the spotlight before being bagged up and discarded, I will never know the person who designed the white snowflakes on a red background and then filed paperwork to see that no one else gets to duplicate his or her work. I will, however, give praise and worship to the Creator Who made me and then gave me a choice to serve Him—or not. I recognize that I truly am not my own; I am bought with a price. I will give Him glory and due recognition for the hard work and investment of love He has made in me, and I will wear His insignia—His copyright symbol—with great gratitude and pleasure. It’s my prayer that you will, too.
“He put his mark on us to show that we are his, and he put his Spirit in our hearts to be a guarantee for all he has promised.” (2 Corinthians 1:22 NCV)
©2012 Lisa Crum