I shared this image on the church’s social media platforms recently and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people. The gifted artist is Charlie Mackesy and I was very fortunate to be given a book of his work last year. The book is called ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ and contains a series of pictures and words about their wanderings together.
Mackesy spent his early years as an atheist but said that, despite his talent, he felt something was missing in his life. At the age of 25, while strolling along in a London park, he had a feeling “that there must be more to this than meets the eye,” and these things can only be seen through the help of Jesus Christ.
“Jesus quietly introduced me to a journey into finding people really beautiful, which is how my art really began,” the artist said. “Because I felt inside me he was going, ‘Look. How beautiful is that guy sitting on that bench?’ And I would have never noticed him before,” he added. From then on, Mackesy placed God and His Word at the centre of his life and became an unlikely evangelist. He is now a speaker for the Alpha Course and shares his faith widely.
This picture is my favourite from the book. It reminds me of these words from Isaiah 43…
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
Many times during this pandemic, or indeed during our lives, these words have been true for all of us. We have a God who scoops us up when we’ve had enough or when we feel like we’re sinking. Sometimes the waters feel like they are consuming us but they never do, not completely. I have journeyed and am journeying with some of you who have experienced terrible grief or difficulties and I know that sometimes it can all feel like too much. But I also know of the powerful testimony to God’s love that has been shown and shared and the sense of ‘being held’ which can only be as a result of the supernatural power of God. If you are going through one of these times, I hope perhaps this image might help you and remind you that we have a God who says, ‘I’ve got you.’
The image above is one of Charlie Mackesy’s most famous works, a sculpture depicting the return of the prodigal son. It is on display outside Holy Trinity Church, Brompton. Equally beautiful is this picture below entitled ‘The Prodigal Daughter’ which Mackesy painted for a friend who suffers with Bipolar disorder. In an interview he explained his motives behind painting this picture. He said, “You know, if you tried to explain in words like, ‘Oh, God loves you,’ or, ‘You’re loved,’ they don’t really carry any meaning at all. And I think for me I was just trying to show her through imagery where, you know, to be held is something she always wanted. So, I said, ‘This is what God is like.”
I hope that these images speak to you on your journey, or perhaps they can help you when you are trying to help someone else.
Yours in Christ,