I have a friend who creates works of art out of old and broken things. Now I confess – when she described to me what she uses to create her art, I couldn’t visualize anything of value or of beauty being made from these discarded, broken materials. But then I saw her works of art for myself. Their beauty took my breath away. Who would have guessed that such beautiful works of art could be created from discarded canvases and broken glass? But seeing is believing and the proof was right before my eyes in dazzling, joyful, glittering, light reflecting, colorful canvases. What a transformation my friend, the artist, accomplishes in bringing these works of art into existence.
I can’t help but think of Ephesians 2:10 when I look at her artwork. It says,
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Other translations of this verse say we are God’s handiwork, or His creation, or His masterpiece. In each case, God as our Creator, is the only artist who can bring beauty from our lives even if all we give Him to work with is ashes and brokenness. Maybe that’s why I so identified with my friend’s art work. She brought beauty out of what she had – she brought beauty out of broken glass and discarded canvases.
I guess that’s what I want God to do with my life – make something beautiful out of all the brokenness and dust. I can see that’s what He’s doing with my friend’s life. We are born into this broken world and then we are broken by the hurts, the hardships, the evils, the trials that come into our lives, sometimes at such a young age, we have no defense and no escape. We are broken beings living in this badly broken world. Who can make sense of and bring beauty from the bits and pieces of a broken life, with all its shattered fragments, sharp shards and jagged edges producing pain and keeping everyone at a distance? My friend’s broken glass art is to me a visual metaphor of our broken lives and what God can make of them if we will but allow Him to work His way in us.
This is good news to me, that God can and does use the broken, the blemished, the discarded, the unlovely to create His masterpiece for His glory. That’s actually our purpose, His glory, to bring glory to Him, to glorify our Creator, God.
“. . . everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7)
I would think an unbroken mirror would do the best job of reflecting, because it would provide a smooth, unbroken reflection. In the same way, I would assume an unbroken person (if there is such a thing), a person with a smooth exterior surface, would do the best job of reflecting God’s glory. But my friend’s broken glass art work produces a dazzling brilliance of light and of reflected light – light in constant motion, ever changing and engaging, light different from every angle, light endlessly revealing and reflecting off of too many surfaces to count – that an unbroken mirror is not capable of producing. That’s the thing about broken glass – it has multiple facets rather than one smooth surface. Multiple facets mean more ways to reflect light – more ways to reflect God’s glory – more ways to glorify God. When my friend takes old, broken mirrors and smashes them to smithereens, they are now ready to become part of a new creation – a new work of art, which will be a thing of light-reflecting beauty, bringing joy to all who behold it.
Funny how the bits and pieces of broken glass, the shattered fragments and the sharp edges produce such a thing of beauty under my artist friend’s careful hand. Likewise, I never would have considered that maybe my broken life, with all of its bits and pieces, full of shattered dreams and hopes and the sharp edges of hurt and rejection, would be better able to reflect God’s glory and bring Him honor and praise, precisely because of its brokenness. Brokenness lets the light in, brokenness exposes multiple surfaces, multiple facets to the light. Brokenness lets the light do its illuminating, beautifying work and ultimately the work of reflecting God’s glory. No greater joy than that!
God, as the Master Artist, can take all the shattered, broken bits and pieces of my life and put them together in a way that creates something brand new and beautiful – something that is able to reflect His glory infinitely better than before. Sometimes we have to be broken to be used by God. Sometimes we have to be broken in order to be able to realize our full beauty and value to God. As my artist friend does her work of breaking glass and then creating something beautiful, something full of light and lifegiving out of what would otherwise be discarded rubble, I see her living out the metaphor of what God can and will do in each and every one of us. If we bring our brokenness, all of it, all our broken pieces to Him, He will take what we offer up to Him and in His hands, it will become something new and beautiful, full of light and life.
Soon I will have one of my artist friend’s works of art hanging in my home. It will be a visual reminder to me that God can bring beauty from brokenness. My Heavenly Father will bring beauty from my brokenness. I will be reminded of that promise and that hope every time I watch the light reflecting off multi-faceted (broken) surfaces of the broken glass now transformed into a thing of beauty.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
we are God’s masterpieces! we are God’s works of art!
sincerely, Grace Day