It was on one of our early creativity courses that the whole room erupted with laughter as an elderly gentleman, unable to contain his own fits of giggles, told us that just as Michelangelo had ‘seen the angel in the marble and carved until he set him free’, he saw the juggler in the lump of clay. And he was sure he could set him free too. Tears of laughter rolled down his face (and everyone else’s) as he explained that no matter how much he cut and shaped and moulded, he just couldn’t find the juggler.
The climax came when he shared that overnight the Lord told him, it wasn’t a juggler in the clay, but a snowman! And he held him up for all to see. We laughed so much with this dear man. I’m sure none of us will ever forget it.
Recalling it recently and smiling to myself, my thoughts turned to how amazing it is that Michelangelo succeeded in achieving what he saw from the very beginning, when there was nothing but a huge block of marble in front of him. And the story goes that this block of marble had already been twice rejected by other respected sculptors. Yet Michelangelo saw what others couldn’t, and he carved until he ‘found’ his masterpiece. What incredible skill and craftsmanship.
Isn’t it even more astounding though, that this universally acclaimed work of art, is a mere reflection of the workmanship of the Master Craftsman, who works, not with stone, but with precious human lives.
Most, if not all of us, have suffered knocks in life: disapproval, criticism, rejection, abandonment, and so often as a result, we develop a shell, a defence to try and save ourselves from being hurt again. But, in trying to protect yourself, you somehow lose yourself, and you’re left wondering who you really are.
Or perhaps you’ve just given so much to caring for others and looking after their needs, that you resonate with that same question: Who am I?
Our Creator God, the one who made us, sees beyond the layers under which we might have become buried through life’s journey, whether they are layers of guilt and shame that have been heaped on us, self-judgements and pronouncements we’ve covered ourselves in, or a job or role that’s somehow taken over. The Master Craftsman has never ever lost sight of us. His eye is on the hidden treasure.
And He calls us to come to Him, to allow Him to carefully strip away those layers, however thick they may be, covering all that He created you to be. For, you are ‘His workmanship, His own master work, a work of art’ which He longs to lovingly reveal.
It’s not easy to submit yourself to His workmanship: the careful precision of the chisel of conviction hits against our pride, the smoothing file and rasp of Holy Spirit rubs against our denial and unreality, revealing, often painful, truth. But He is kind and loving in all He does. And we are cleansed by the shed blood of Jesus, and comforted, soothed and set free by the washing of His Word and receiving of His truth: that we are His most precious masterpiece, and as such He loves us above all and holds us safe in His hand, and we can look forward with hope and joy to the fulfilment of His promise: ‘He will hold you aloft in his hands for all to see—a splendid crown for the King of kings. Never again shall you be called “The God-forsaken Land” or the “Land That God Forgot.” Your new name will be “The Land of God’s Delight” and “The Bride,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his own’ (Isaiah 62:3-5, TLB).
Prayer: Creator God, thank You that You are the Master Craftsman. You know how I’ve struggled with believing things about myself that are not what Your Word says. You know how I’ve tried to be the person I’ve thought I should be, and in the process, I’ve shut down the person You made me to be. Thank You that You’ve never lost sight of me. You know me, You see me where I can’t even see myself. Please help me to allow You to strip away the false, and to bring Your Holy Spirit revelation. Please show me who You made me to be and help me to receive Your truth. I want to allow You to do your work in my life. I want to live to Your praise and glory. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
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