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Suzanne Irving reflects how in our fragility we are both jars of clay and God’s masterpieces

This article was published in the September to December 2023 edition of Rapport magazine.

Look closely at this masterpiece …

Notice all the different colours, some cool and calming; some bold and in your face …

Notice the juxtaposition of colours, some clashing, some enhancing and uplifting each other …

Notice the areas you find too loud, too pale, too dark, too messy, too bland, too …

Notice the places where the paint has peeled off or never attached in the first place,
exposing patches of raw clay …

Look closely at this masterpiece because it represents YOU.

All of it.

The whole kaleidoscope of colours.

The colours that make your heart sing,

the colours you never noticed were present in your life,

the colours that remind you of memories you’d rather forget.

All of it.

All the pieces are forming the whole:

the rough and unfinished parts,

the confusing, muddled, messy bits,

the beauty where others can catch glimpses of the bigger story, the Creator behind it all.

All of it part of God’s masterpiece.

Yes, masterpieces, every one of us.

Yes, us, who break so easily, who get chipped and shatter

when we bump into each other or hit one of life’s potholes.

Yes, masterpieces, every one of us.

Yes, us, who often try to fix what is broken but lose more substance in the process;

us, who apply a bit of varnish, a lick of paint on the outside,

only for the paint to peel in the heat, the cold, the storms of life;

us, whose inside has remained dark and untouched.

Yes, we are God’s masterpieces, the fragile, common vessels

he has chosen to house his glory:

each of us in our unique way, with our potted history.

No, not perfectly –

but everything and everyone is redeemable,

everyone a priceless treasure.

God’s words – not mine.

Underlined for all time

on the cross.

God knows we need to be reshaped from the inside out,

letting his glorious rainbow colours penetrate our souls.

We need to let life, light and love in.

His name is Jesus.

If you and I are filled with his life, light and love, life, light and love will radiate out,

even in our broken places especially in our unvarnished, unfinished places.

Our frailty and unadorned vulnerability will highlight God’s power and glory.

That’s why God calls us both jars of clay and masterpieces.

Susanne Irving

(Painted and written at Lee Abbey, 4 May 2023)

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