A Lesson from Michelangelo

  • May 27, 2013
  • #8106

How does a sculptor create a work of art? God is our creator, and He will use our trials and afflictions to shape us to the image of his Son.

A Lesson from Michelangelo

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a little sculpting lesson.

An artist in Florence, Italy once asked the great Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo what he saw when he approached a huge block of marble. The famous sculptor stood back and looked at that big square block of white marble, rubbed his chin thoughtfully, and replied, "I see a beautiful form trapped inside and it is my responsibility to take my mallet and chisel and chip away until the figure is set free."  I love that illustration because you can relate to it.  Inside of us is a beautiful form, right?  Colossians chapter 1, verse 27 says so. It speaks of the hidden figure inside of each believer longing to be "set free". It is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." It’s within us, like a seed, like a possibility, like a potential; it’s what you hope for: Christ in you glorified through your life, right?  The idea is there and Our Heavenly Father is a little like a sculptor. He wants to release his Son in us. And so, he uses affliction like a hammer and trouble just like a chisel, and he chips and cuts away at us through trials to reveal Jesus' image in you and me. God chooses as his model his Son, Jesus Christ, because Romans chapter 8 verse 29 says:

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son".

I don't need to tell you that you and I have lot of hard marble that needs to be chipped away before Christ can be seen in you and me. That hammer hurts, doesn’t it?  Those trials, that chisel bites—I can attest to that sitting in this wheelchair for so long.  After time, the rough form begins to take shape. What does this sculpture look like? God uses suffering to purge sin out of your life and strengthen your commitment to him, and force us to depend on grace. God uses affliction to bind you together with other believers, produce discernment, foster sensitivity toward others who hurt. God's got the hammer and chisel in hand to help discipline your minds, teach you to spend your time wisely. That hammer and chisel makes you stretch your hope, long for truth, and give thanks in times of sorrow. It increases faith and strengthens character.  And oh my goodness friend, that is a beautiful image. That’s Christ in you!

When Jesus is revealed in you, it is a unique sculpture. It is what patience, and self-control, and kindness, as well as a healthy hatred of sin looks like on you (and no one else). Your suffering is divinely hand-tailored to suit exactly what patience should look like on "you." The "who" of who you are, is transformed, like a sculpture unfolding. And we, like it says in second Corinthians chapter 3, “…are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit".

Today, however and in whatever way you are feeling the bite of the chisel, or the hardness of the hammer, ask God to help you not to focus on those tools of suffering; but on him, the Sculptor. Yield to the chisel today. May God change you.  May God reveal Himself in you.  You know, friend, Michelangelo may have sculptured some beautiful things that have endured for centuries, but why don’t you ask God today to set you free from whatever sin or entanglement is hindering your walk with him?  Hey, it’s always good to hear from you on my radio page and, of course, on our Joni and Friends Facebook page, and on this subject particularly, I’d like to hear your thoughts. So please send me your comments at joniandfriends.org. Tell me your ideas on this topic or what else from Scripture has helped you yield to the hammer and chisel. Let’s connect on my radio page at joniandfriends.org.

© Joni and Friends


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