Perhaps the greatest sculpture ever created is Michelangelo’s statue of David. This seventeen foot tall masterpiece was fashioned from a block of marble that had been rejected by all other sculptors of his time. As the story goes, a previous artist chose the enormous piece of rock, then began his project by drilling a hole through the center. He chipped away a great deal of the marble from the front and back of the hole before abandoning his project and leaving the huge pieced hopelessly marred and completely unusable… or so all the other artists who saw it thought. Michelangelo ignored the assessment of his peers and saw the beauty and potential that lay beneath the surface appearance. After he selected this stone and began work, the legendary sculptor brought forth his breathtaking piece in only 18 months!
I love this story because it is so resembles what God does for us. Outwardly, all of us have deep and sometimes obvious flaws. Our mistakes and poor choices often appear to have damaged us beyond usefulness to the kingdom of God. Accusers who have seen our blunders firsthand may even loudly reject our worth. But God ignores the opinions of others, and when we join our lives with Christ, He dedicates Himself to bringing forth a beautiful masterpiece through our lives! (Eph 2:10)
While we can anticipate the finished work the Lord promised to do, (Phil. 1:6) we can’t jump to the end. The actual process of polishing and refining can be lengthy and painful. He selects difficulty, trial and hardship as His main tools for chipping away the imperfections that keep an accurate representation of Christ hidden. But remember, He directs the sharp chisel of disappointment, pain and loss in specific blows with the intention of revealing something no one but the Lord can see. While we may be tempted to resist His work, and even wonder if His instruments will destroy us, if we can be patient and trust His skilled hands and loving heart, in time, the glorious image of Christ will emerge.
Brothers, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you,
as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ,
so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.
1 Peter 4:12-13