Collages by God
By Anthony Casperson
A while ago, I thought about how God creates beauty in the lives of his followers. Like a picture or a painting, God reveals the beauty he has readied for us. His will working in our lives makes this beautiful image, if we let him work in us.
For some, it’s a quick shot of beauty. Like a camera shot, a moment of time encapsulates the beauty of the life God has for them. God moves in the lives of these people in such a swift and dramatic fashion that all who look at the photo can’t help but see the beauty of God.
Others have a journey to the beauty. Like a painter gracing the canvas with his brush, God focuses on little details at a time. It might take some time to see the fullness of the picture, but the beauty of the specific portions can be seen as time progresses. For these people, while it might take time to see the beauty of the whole, they can appreciate the beauty of aspects when they come.
One could be tempted to stop there, saying that some people have God’s beauty revealed in their lives quickly and others have that same revelation come in time. But that is certainly not it. Beauty comes in many various forms and time scales. And sometimes (actually quite often) beauty comes only after life has torn us to pieces.
I’m not sure about you. You might be one of the two types that I mentioned above, but I feel more like the revelation of beauty in my life comes in small bits and pieces. Pieces that when looked at individually don’t make sense together, but when brought into focus, in certain patterns, reveal a beauty that could never come through a photo or painting.
Like a collage, God reveals his beauty in some people’s lives through various partial images. Cutting them, ripping them, tearing them, the experiences of life form a picture that is made up of many photos and yet will never truly be able to have the fullness of beauty until the work is complete.
God moves in moments, taking pictures along the way, only to rip apart the images to create something that will eventually be beautiful. The problem is that in the ripping, cutting, tearing (some might say pruning), it hurts a lot. And in that pain, there’s not even the ability to enjoy the beauty in parts because tears and seams are all that we can see in the moment.
Beauty, in this sense, is difficult to see because we’re still in the midst of the process. And we also live too close to the pain to appreciate the fullness of the beauty. Once we move past the seams, tears, and rough edges, once we back up, we can see the beauty of the whole picture. The pain, tears, and aching don’t disappear, but they instead become places that accentuate the beauty God has been working in our lives.
I’m not saying that we should feel hopeless to see beauty in God’s working in our lives. But rather, there is a sense of faith that God’s working in our lives might have ups and downs, but his desire is to create in us a unique piece of art. Whether the beauty is seen immediately, takes some time, or is almost impossible to see in the present, his goal for all of us is the same.
We who are followers of Jesus are called God’s workmanship in Ephesians 2:10. While the word in the Greek there for “workmanship” is where we get our English word for poetry, I think it can be used to refer to many forms of art. We are God’s artistic effort. His way of continuing to bring beauty into the world he created.
He created us to be his image, a representation of himself in this world. God is the very definition of beauty and so we who are his representation on this world of his are made to show the beauty as well. It’ll come in many forms and methods and ways. God is infinite after all. There’s no way to represent him fully. But we don’t ever need to be ashamed that the representation of his beauty that he’s working in us doesn’t look the same as someone else.
God works his beauty in us. As he works in our lives, he sees the beauty. Even if we don’t.