When you hear someone speak of the "Mona Lisa", many people conjure up an image of a beautiful, but unsmiling woman, staring out into the middle distance. When I think of a Mona Lisa, what I imagine is a concept, a journey, a striving towards something that is unattainable but, the trying for it is good.
A Mona Lisa can be a good thing. It represents that sacrifice for something great and worthy of your time and tears. But if you do not achieve or buy a Mona Lisa, does it still have worth in a public gallery? In other words, if you do not achieve that which you set out to do, is the journey still worth it? Ecclesiastes would phrase this in the following way "What do people gain from all their labours at which they toil, under the sun?"
Why a Mona Lisa starts or, why steering is good.
A Mona Lisa moment began for me a few years ago. A few words sunk to depths of my heart and took deep root there. They changed everything for me and made me more than I thought I could become. They have been my solace. The words have become treasures that I take out of a bag to look at, to remind myself of those words. I think of them now. They still resonate till this day. God has used man's words to me to shape my dreams and hopes. My future vision has become my "Mona Lisa".
The Bible talks of God planning our lives, not for harm but to prosper us. God DREAMS for us. This dream or vision is a thing that I have created space for in my mental wall; that one day I might hang a certain experience in that space in order to feel like I have achieved. This kind of striving has a precedent in Paul's letters; he talks in Hebrews "let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us". However there is a possibility that it could become an obsession – an idol. The Mona Lisa ends up taking the place of Jesus.
What is the intention of a Mona Lisa?
Goal setting is important. I am journeying through this. In my life I have had to grow and understand that things do not just happen. If I want something to change, I have to identify what it is and do it. Having a goal or a vision in mind is important and necessary, because we run the risk of sleep-walking through important and life-shaping seasons, if we do not set ourselves a goal. My goal at the moment is for increase, in every area. I have to understand however, that it is Jesus that is the source of the increase. Only he can bring change. I must not distract myself with the artwork, but I must fix my eyes on the artist instead. Proverbs puts it so well "Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you".
Do we need to buy the Mona Lisa to know that it is good to have it there?
But what happens if we do not achieve the Mona Lisa? That rather than taking the artwork home and finding a space for it in our sitting room, that it forever remains a goal that we pay to look at for a while, separated by blue, rough rope? The deep emptiness left by an unachieved, unresolved issue can break a person. It can heal over time, but leaves deep scars too. One feels rejected by what that dream represented. It is possible for the hurt to become overwhelming.
And yet the training for the dream has validity whether it is achieved or not. In that striving and hurting for what we want we become what we are meant to be. It is important that we realise that, in the end we do not have to strive, that we are operating in the grace of God. But I also think that we can demonstrate to our father what we are prepared to do, to make the path he has laid out for us actually happen. If a father gives a child a car, it is of no use to the child until the child learns to drive. Equally, a dream or vision given to us as God's children takes effect when we begin to hold it in our heads and work towards it.
We must not lose sight of the originator of the dream, but we can begin to work for our future. Joseph caught the vision of God and worked hard for it. Whilst the brothers had a hand in shaping his future, he was the one who toiled for Potiphar and Pharaoh. He partnered with God in making the dream happen. In this instance, the dream or plan was achieved, but the example of Joseph is something that we can all learn from.
Why Mona Lisa can also remain "public art"
The Mona Lisa that you wanted to have above your mantelpiece can also be public art. It is sometimes, just good to know that these dreams are there. At times a hope, or ambition, whether achieved or not has intrinsic value.
We do not know why God gives dreams to people, but we do know that God gives us the desires of our heart. And who's to say that the Mona Lisa cannot be replaced by a Monet instead?
Rosie Robinson resides in Manchester where, in between feeding herself coffee and bagels she works in financial services. She is a member of a lively church and enjoys reading, running and watching films. She is currently on a trek with Jesus; discovering slowly but surely, all that life has to offer – and has decided that she has the coolest big sister on the planet! (fellow young writer Amanda living in New Zealand).
Rosie Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosie-robinson.html