Collette is an aspiring evangelist from the Midlands, and blogs over at Catholic Birmingham.
Over Lent, my focus has been to grow more into my dignity as a beloved daughter of God. To learn a little more of what this means, I searched around for a Scripture to keep me focused during Lent. The obvious ones came up such as "This is my Beloved..." and "You are precious in my eyes..." However, as I brought these to adoration on the evening before Ash Wednesday, the Lord came back with an entirely different Scripture for my Lenten focus.
"We are God's work of art, created anew in Christ Jesus, to live the good life as He intended from the beginning" (Eph 2:10)
It was so perfectly apt for my circumstances and proof that our Heavenly Father always knows what’s best for His children. Meditating on this Scripture the last few weeks has highlighted 3 truths in my life that I would like to share with you:
1) I am God's work of art
One can only imagine how the artist delights in his masterpiece. Lovingly created by his own hands, stroke by stroke, turning a dream into a reality. And then think of those that delight in his masterpiece – the many millions that have gazed in wonder and awe over a Rembrant, Monet or Van Gogh. The same can be said about God. The Father marvels at each one of us. From before all time, you were on His Heart and even now He is lovingly perfecting you, stroke by stroke – ready for heaven and all eternity. As the artist delights in the work of his hands, so too, the Father delights in you.
God gave me a real image to secure this during an evening of commitment to Christ in my parish during Lent. I felt very low that day but knew this was an important night. Taking inspiration from Rosanna's post on here, I put a nice dress on, did my hair and put my favourite lipstick on. I had some flowers in my hand to leave at the Lady Chapel as it was the Feast of the Annunication. As I walked up to the church, I felt like a beautiful bride… and then I felt really silly. At that moment, it was as if the Lord whispered in my ear "Why do you shrink from who you are? You are my beautiful bride, hold your head high, know your worth and walk confidently towards the One who loves you so deeply and intimately."
2) I am also His work in progress
I think this is implied in being God's work of art but also in the little line that follows about being created anew in Christ Jesus. I’ve learned a little more to accept that I am not yet the masterpiece God desires to create in me. Each day he chisels a little more off me or adds another stroke of paint here and there. The final masterpiece will not be complete until I am in Heaven.
My vocation is to become like His Son, and each day He is creating me anew in Christ. A huge weight is lifted off my shoulders when I realise that this work is His and not mine. All I am expected to do is hand the troubles of my heart, my imperfections and my weaknesses over to Him. We tend to want to put our best foot forward in life and this is even true with our relationship with God. We come to the Lord having spent endless time and energy to make sure we look and sound good, we have ticked all the boxes and glossed over our struggles.
Or sometimes we don't even bother going to the Lord, because we think we’ll go when we’re better or holier... God can do very little with this. He knows what’s really on our heart and therefore we shouldn't be afraid to hand over what we are really struggling with. God likes mess, for it is in the honesty of this mess that He does His best work. As Scripture reminds us, His Power is made perfect in our weaknesses! Every weakness is an opportunity for growth and grace if we hand it over to God.
Healing and wholeness is God's work, so even if I fall down on the journey I just need to keep on getting up and keeping my heart open to all He desires to create in me.
3) I am made for goodness
When God created me He intended love and goodness for my life. He had plans in mind to make me prosper and not to harm me. This can be an incredibly hard truth to hold onto, especially when your life has been filled with a lot of darkness. When your heart is wounded by events of your past and these moments still haunt you. It can be a hard truth to hold onto when in your pain and hurt you’re crying out "God where were you?", and your heart might be resentful or angry because of this. Maybe you doubt God's love for you because of the circumstances of your life. What I want to say to you is this:
Whatever horrible things you have experienced in your past, this was not God's plan for your life. From the beginning, He intended love and goodness to fill all the days of your life. Unfortunately free will of others and even of ourselves can get in the way, but that is why the Father sent Jesus. He sent His Son to set us free and to lead us into the abundant life that He has promised to give us. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is beyond redemption. No matter how dark life can seem, Jesus had the last word on the cross and His love is greater than any situation you find yourself in. Pope Francis sums it up so perfectly:
Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you” (Evangelii Gaudium #164)
But what I have learned over Lent is that each day we have to choose to walk in this freedom. We have to make a conscious decision to walk confidently in the knowledge that He intends goodness for our lives. When the darkness threatens to overwhelm us, we need to ground ourselves in the Truth that this too will pass and to seek the goodness of God in all things. We need to have the courage to pick up our cross and carry it as best we can, secure in the knowledge that our Father in Heaven is faithful and our resurrection moment will come.
And it will come.