‘I am God’s masterpiece’

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Commissioning and Ordination testimony

By Shelby Hanauer, Lt. –

God did not give me the gift of artistry. There are those, especially many in my session, whose imaginations run wild. Their minds are filled with vivid colors, obscure shapes, distinct patterns, and brilliant textures. And these tangled, jumbled images come together in a brilliant display of originality. They know, instinctively, how to translate their creative ideas into a beautiful, magnificent masterpiece.

That is not my gift. In art class, I would sit, staring at a piece of clay, unable to imagine what it could be. Around me, my classmates created robots, animals, and rockets from outer space. The best I could muster was a misshapen snowman. Sometimes, if I had a burst of creativity, I would add arms, buttons and a carrot for the nose. For me, rolling three pieces of clay into a ball and placing one on top of the other was the pinnacle of creativity.

There are many passages in the Bible that describe God’s imagination and artistry. We are described as his handiwork, his masterpiece, being made in his image. Often, God is likened to that of a potter and we his clay. Thankfully, God does not sit around with a lump of clay in his hands, uninspired. No, God has a distinct and unique purpose, and a carefully crafted design in mind for each of us. He does not make us all the same, but takes our fragile, inert clay and breathes life and creativity into each one.

In my journey with Christ, God has carefully taken me in his hands. He’s molded and shaped me into a reflection of his Son, Jesus. It hasn’t always been a comfortable or enjoyable process. There have been times when he has broken me down and reformed the pieces of my life—and the process is far from over.

I am God’s masterpiece. And like any proud artist, God has written upon my life his signature. Now, I can see that signature more clearly. Inscribed upon my life is the signature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It’s his gospel of grace that formed my lifeless clay. At the young of age of five, in the middle of our kitchen floor, I knelt with my mother, asking Jesus to come into my life and be my Savior. I may not have understood the enormity of the commitment I was making that day; however, I felt deep in my heart, the power of God’s grace in my life. I knew that my sins were forgiven, because of Christ’s loving sacrifice for me on the cross.

It has been a gospel of obstacles or, as God daily reminds me, a gospel of opportunities to trust him. Throughout my journey with Christ, I have experienced trials of various kinds: divorce, loss, depression, loneliness, anxiety, despair, doubt. Through each trial, I’ve learned to depend upon the nature and character of God to see me through. I’ve experienced his restoration in mending broken family. His hope has brought me out of the depths of depression and anxiety. And his unconditional love for me has healed my broken heart.

It is a gospel of surrender, giving our lives over to the plan of the creator. Mapping out my life felt easy. A decade ago, I convinced myself that my plans were his plans. I was ready to be wed, but difficulty came when my relationship with my fiancé ended. But, his loving hands provided comfort. As I continually surrender my control, my dreams, my will, by aligning myself to him, I find more joy than I’ve ever known.

It is a gospel of purpose and of peace. I found my purpose halfway across the world. In the small country of Estonia, sitting in the sanctuary of the Kopli Corps, a young woman needed to know God’s love. As I prayed over this hurting, confused girl, I heard the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit. With clarity, he spoke: “This is what I made you for.” In that very moment, filled with his assurance and utter peace, God called me to serve, and love his people.

It is also a gospel that equips. In these two years of training, I have felt unworthy, inadequate, unskilled, less than, and unprepared for the calling he’s placed on my life. Thankfully, God has assured me that he has equipped me to spread his gospel. Not because I possess great skills or talents, but because I am willing to be used by the potter. By his hands, he’s equipped me to love others, to share my faith, to intercede in prayer, and to faithfully trust him.

Finally, it’s a gospel of love. Loving God has produced in me a genuine love for others. When Jesus calls us to love the world, he wants us to do so sacrificially. God calls me to love the lost, the broken, the forgotten, and even the unlovable. That means getting out of my comfort zone, going to places that only God can call me, and trusting him each step of the way.

Our session verse, found in Matthew 24:14 states, “And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The message of the Gospel is simply this: we are to love God and love others. We have been designed by a creator who has inscribed on our lives his gospel of grace, of opportunity, of surrender, of purpose, one that equips, and one of love. The Gospel will only reach the ends of the world when it has permeated our entire being. You don’t need to be an officer, you don’t need to be a Messenger of the Gospel to join me in this mission. God calls each of us to go, and to tell others how the Gospel has transformed our lives. As one Army, as one body of Christ, I encourage you today to not simply preach the Gospel, but to live it out daily, so that the whole world may experience the unconditional, inclusive, perfect love of Christ.

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