GOD’S CHISEL

I was reading this week that David is cracking up! If you’re looking at anyone named David right now, you’re looking at the wrong David- here’s the one I’m talking about…

This is a PG rated view of the famous statue sculpted by Michelangelo that stands some 18 feet tall and is housed in an art museum in Florence, Italy. There are stress cracks in David’s ankles that have been growing over the years and there is genuine concern that even a reasonably mild earthquake in Florence, could bring it tumbling down.

A recent article in the NY Times recounted the story of this masterpiece. It’s a story that apparently began in 1464 with many mistakes- but not mistakes made by Michelangelo. The huge marble stone block was actually cut out of the mountains 11 years before he was even born! A man named Agostino was originally commissioned to carve the statue but he knew very little about working with marble. The slab that was cut was marred by holes and discolored by veins. The marble block weighed 25,000 lbs. and took 2 ½ years just to get it down the mountain and into the city. It was not a good cut and Agostino compounded the problems by making several mistakes with his initial work on the block. So much so that he was fired!

The enormous block was abandoned and left lying there for years. Local residents began referring to it as, “the giant.” In 1501 the city leaders decided to restart the project. They first thought of Leonardo da Vinci but da Vinci apparently had no use for sculpturing, so they gave it to new up and comer in the art world that we know as Michelangelo. But, the huge block had been exposed to the sun and the weather for some 35 years and many people considered it to be unsalvageable. They said it would be impossible to get a proper figure out of the mess that was left. Michelangelo not only salvaged the ruined block, but he turned it into a masterpiece! Art historians called it a miracle.

The story is told that when Michelangelo was asked how he did it, he replied with these words, “I simply cut away everything that was not David.” If I had looked at that original big block of stone, I would have said, “Now that is one big old ugly rock!” That’s all I would’ve seen! But, Michelangelo, the master sculptor, looked at that big ugly rock, and saw within it… the magnificence of “David!” So, “David” became what he already was in the mind of his creator- a masterpiece!

The Bible says, Ephesians 2:10 (NLT), For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus… When God looks at you as someone who has trusted in Christ as Lord and Savior- he sees a masterpiece! He sees Christ in you… and he begins the process of cutting away everything in your life that is not Christ! But, unlike Michelangelo who took about two years to produce the statue of David, God chisels away at us for a lifetime. Stone does nothing to resist the chipping away of the sculptor… but we are not so non-resistant, are we? We have to be willing to humbly submit to God’s chisel. We have to cooperate with God- our Master Sculptor- as he chips away our defects to make us more and more like Christ. But cooperation isn’t always easy because more often than not, that chisel can be painful. And the deeper he has to cut, the more painful it can be.

As a pastor, I’ve found that some of the most painful experiences in ministry have ultimately served as God’s chisel in my life- his labor of love to make me more like Christ. I wish I could say that I have always been quick to recognize what God wanted to do and humbly submitted to the process. But most of the time, it’s been long after the initial cause of the pain has taken place and many angry days later that I finally look back and learn. I wish I wasn’t so slow! How is the Master Sculptor at work in your life these days?

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