There are some people who would be able to look at the first picture and say, ‘that looks like a Monet’. Others would look at the bottom one and say, ‘classic Banksy’.
(Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of either of them, it really isn’t the end of the world…) Setting aside, for the moment, that you can read Monet’s signature at the bottom of the painting, there are other reasons why people might be able to tell you it’s his work. Likewise, there are reasons why people would look at the bottom one and guess it’s a Banksy. I’m not much of an art critic myself, but I guess people who know what they’re looking for can work out the artist from the style. Maybe it’s the way they use light in the picture, maybe it’s the subject matter. Loads of reasons really. Some people would be able to do the same with sculptures, or pottery. Flip, some people could probably do it with buildings, if they were building-geeks. “Oh, that looks like the work of [insert name of well-know architect] doesn’t it.”
But what about with people? Can we do it with them?
There’s a song I really love called Fingerprints of God. It’s by a singer I also really love, called Steven Curtis Chapman. In the song, he sings:
I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it’s true
You’re a masterpiece that all creation
And you’re covered with
The fingerprints of God
Now, I get the impression from the rest of the words in the song that it’s written originally for people who are struggling to find value in themselves. They look in the mirror and don’t really like what they see. They look at their lives, and kinda figure they’d rather be someone else. So the encouragement is to see that God’s fingerprints are all over them. He’s left His mark on them – they just need to recognise it.
Obviously, that’s a really important message. We do need to recognise that we are God’s creation, and see His ‘fingerprints’ on us – the things that make it clear that it was Him who designed us; Him who made us.
But for me, that isn’t actually the way I’ve used those lyrics. I used to work with some really quite naughty young people (!) and this song was a great help at times. The song wasn’t originally directed at naughty people, but the message really challenged me. I was listening to it one day and I realised that I needed to see God’s fingerprints on other people. The kids I worked with were, just like me, created by God. They, just like me, would have His fingerprints on if only I looked hard enough. So there were times in my classroom or my office where I would actually make myself see God’s fingerprints. I’d work through everything I knew about those kids and find His fingerprints on them somewhere. Sure, a lot of them had got pretty smudged by other stuff, and the work of other people on their lives. But God’s fingerprints were there if only I looked for them. That helped me a lot in my work with them – to find and appreciate God’s fingerprints on them.
So what about you?
Do you need to recognise God’s fingerprints on your life? Do you need to see how precious a part of His creation you are? Because you are His creation, and you are immensely precious to Him.
And when you’re with other people, are there some you really can’t stand, who really get to you, or upset you, or maybe are just downright unpleasant? Have you ever looked for God’s fingerprints on them? because if you do, you might be pleasantly surprised.
When you’re looking for God’s fingerprints, be willing to look carefully. Maybe you’ll see someone’s creativity as God’s gift, or their desire to protect people they love as His mark. It could be anything, but I reckon you’ll be able to find something.
Give it a try.