I've been pondering Michelangelo.
Everyone knows he is famous for the enormous David sculpture he chiseled
out a a huge slab of marble. Perhaps less known are his discarded
The Prisoners are unfinished sculptures. In some of them you can see a
perfect arm, muscles perfectly and painstakingly carved out of rock.
Part of a face, a hand, a foot or torso. But none of them is finished.
It's interesting that when Michelangelo was asked how in the holy heck
he made this behemoth of a statue, he basically said he just cut away
everything that was not David. It would seem he already knew by looking
at the blank stone what would emerge. He knew exactly what he wanted his
masterpiece to look like.
Friends, we are like those unfinished sculptures with one notable
exception: we will not be discarded or left unfinished. Jesus said that He will never leave us or forsake us, and we have a beautiful promise that the God who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion.
I think about the bad habits and character flaws I have battled with all
my life. Like my tendency to be critical, or my overuse of sarcasm and
snark. I struggle to follow through and be consistent, to be a good
steward, and to respond with patience. I get frustrated when I screw up
and start the self-loathing tirade. I doubt sometimes that I'll ever
emerge from this prison of stubborn flesh. I can feel the shackles of
Michelangelo's Prisoners, trapped in hard stone. When I focus on my
shortcomings, guilt is the only thing I can feel chipping away at me.
Our God makes all things beautiful in His time. He restores the years
the locusts have devoured. He brings beauty and loveliness out of the
And I believe.
He is making us His masterpiece, friends.
He sees us, trapped in sin and mess and failure and, like Michelangelo
looking at his David-in-progress, he sees those things do not belong. So
He chisels them away. It can be painful. But slowly, we start to
realize those are not the things meant to define us. We can take the
ugly and the guilt and the struggle and bow down our hearts and tell the
Great Artisan we trust Him to keep only what He envisions us to be.
One last thought? Artists leave their mark on their masterpieces.
Instead of being critical, instead of seeing the ugly, I'm determined
anew to look for His signature on my brothers and sisters. To see proof
of His involvement and plan for their lives. I want eyes to see and
words to encourage. My heart yearns for all of us to get a little
glimpse of His vision, so we might hope against hope that He is making
something beautiful out of all of us after all.
Creating a masterpiece takes time.
I know it sounds cliche, but really, we are a work in progress.
And He isn't finished with us yet.