Whether you’re into art or not, I dare say you’ve heard of Michelangelo. Many people know him for painting the magnificent ceiling at the Sistine Chapel; however, the great artist often preferred sculpture to painting. The David, the Moses, and several of Michelangelo’s other sculptures are today considered some of the finest artistic masterpieces of all time. When asked about his artistic philosophy, he once said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
Michelangelo, like any other sculptor, started out with a rock. Just a rock. Rocks aren’t generally worth much, and even the ones that are, like marble, don’t do a thing in the world by themselves. In their original state, they’re not much to look at, and they certainly don’t take any kind of action or get anything done. They can’t preserve themselves or even make themselves any better than they are. They’re just rocks. Plain and simple.
So what on earth does this have to do with anything? Well, dear readers… by ourselves, we’re just rocks. Think about it. Are we worth anything by ourselves? Do we have any true power in and of ourselves? Nope. We really don’t. Without God, without our Master Sculptor working on us, we’re just worthless lumps of earth with no eternal value. Now that’s kind of dark. But don’t worry, there’s hope. As I mentioned, there is a Master Sculptor, and He can work on us if we’ll let Him.
The first thing a sculptor has to do when crafting a statue is pick out a good rock. In our Christian lives, however, it’s flip-flopped; we as rocks have to pick out THE good Sculptor. We can turn to several things to try to change ourselves into the kind of people we want to be. Some people turn to money, others to relationships, others to drugs and alcohol, others to themselves. However, the only thing that can TRULY help us to shape our lives is a strong relationship with Jesus Christ. Part two is perhaps harder– the process of sculpting. Like Michelangelo said, every rock has a statue inside of it, has the potential to become something beautiful– we just have to find that potential and allow the sculptor to pull it out. Lucky for rocks, they have no willpower fighting against that of the sculptor. Can you imagine a rock telling its craftsman, “Nah, I don’t think I’ll be a horse. I want to be a human. Thanks for working on me, though, I still want to be friends…” No! That’s ridiculous! However, we do this all the time (or at least I know I do). We decide we want to follow our own plans instead of what the Lord has planned for us. We know that a rock ultimately gets no say in what it becomes, and our lives are similar. Proverbs 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.” If our plans for ourselves do not coincide with God’s plans, they will ultimately fail no matter what we do. According to James 4:10, if we humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord, He will exalt us. If we humble our will to God’s will, then He can make us into the beautiful statues we were meant to be.
Of course, this is easier said than done. I looked up some information on how marble sculpture actually works, and it doesn’t sound too fun for the rock. First, the carver knocks off the impure pieces of the marble that he knows he doesn’t want in the sculpture. Our spiritual lives, too, require this “pitching”, as it is called. 1 Peter 2:1 tells us that we ought to be “putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander”; these are only a few of the sinful qualities that we must “pitch” to be good “statues”.
Next, the sculptor uses a hammer and mallet to shatter some of the stone in order to get the correct shape. We, too, must sometimes be “shattered” in order to achieve God’s will in our lives, but in the end we become a stronger sculpture. James the Lord’s brother tells us to “consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). Sometimes when we feel like God is breaking us, He’s actually making us. Finally, the sculptor uses various tools to refine the look of the statue. God has given us two such tools to make us stronger– the Bible, and prayer. Through the Bible, we can look closer at ourselves to see our weaknesses, as if in a mirror (James 1:22-25); and through prayer, we can grow closer to our Maker, give Him the glory that is due Him, confess our weaknesses, and ask for strength.
However, any artist can tell you that an artist’s work is never truly done. No piece of art is ever completely perfect, and in the same way, neither are we. No matter how much we improve, there will always be room for more improvement. We still sin, we still make mistakes, we still fall short– but if we follow God, “pitch” the sin out of our lives, and submit to His will, we’ll be pleasing, beautiful “statues” in His sight.
“On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.” -Romans 9:20-23
By Melissa Hite
Melissa (age 16) attends Bear Valley church of Christ with her parents, Michael and Lynn, and her little brother, Matthew. Her goals include continually growing closer to God and eventually becoming a writer and a mom. On her blog, Christ Crossed My Heart, you can find other poignant, well-written posts.