Did Michelangelo create his famous David statue, or did he merely reveal it?

As legend has it, the Renaissance Man famously said that the sculpture already existed inside the giant block of marble, and his job was just to make it visible.

I don’t know where or when he supposedly made that statement, but whether it’s true or not, there’s an element of Truth in it, isn’t there?

Taken literally, it’s both empowering and intimidating – and makes me glad I’m not a sculptor. If I were, I’d be constantly afraid of accidentally chiseling off something vital (especially if the statue I’m working on is a nude), and creating something mediocre, or worse – rather than revealing something divine. If Michelangelo had been ‘blessed’ with my sculpting talent, that same block of marble would have ended up as a blob of nothing next to a pile of rubble.

And there’s something in Michelangelo’s alleged declaration that rings true about us, isn’t there?

Inside each of us; underneath the layers of emotional and spiritual plaque we’ve built up – anxiety, anger, resentment, fear, self-loathing, impatience, intolerance, sadness, pettiness, spite, pain, etc.  – is God’s masterpiece, patiently waiting to be revealed.

The man I was made to be. The person you were made to be.

And again, that’s both empowering and intimidating. What if I chisel off too much, or too little? How do I separate the rubble from the Rob? And how do I get at the parts of my statue-in-the-making that are hard to reach? (It’s pretty tough to get the detail just right on your own butt, for instance.)

Very simple: I don’t.

You’ll notice it wasn’t the marble’s job to sculpt itself. Neither is it ours.

There’s only one Sculptor in charge of this project, and He never makes a mistake. The Artist’s vision is flawless and His chiseling technique is perfect. He knows exactly what the sculpture is supposed to look like at the end, and He knows precisely how to get it that way.

Our job in this process is simple, but it ain’t easy: we have to let Him work on us. We need to stand still at the right times, and turn around when He needs us to. We must be patient – the process is meticulous, laborious and lengthy.

Not to mention painful.

Unlike an inanimate slab of marble, we’re alive and we have feelings. Being whacked repeatedly with a hammer and chisel hurts us. Even if we know it’s good for us and we’re looking forward to seeing (and being) the finished product, there’s no getting around the unpleasantness of the process.

And perhaps the toughest part of being a co-operative marble slab is the challenge of letting go of our rubble. We’re quite attached to some of the detritus that Jesus wants to remove. From our limited, earthly vantage point, we may even be under the delusion that these bits are essential parts of the masterpiece.

And Jesus is a very considerate sculptor; He won’t touch the areas we won’t share with Him. He works with what we give Him; nothing more or less. And of course, to truly reach our potential, we have to give him the whole slab.

The whole Me.

How do we do that? Dunno. Let me know if you figure it out. I promise to do the same.

It’s definitely worth figuring out, though. Once you do let Him do His work, the True You that Jesus will reveal will make Michelangelo’s David look like a colorless, lifeless hunk of rock.

Peace be with you.

Photo source:

About robpetkau

Communications professional by day, amateur musician by night, worship leader (at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Calgary) on weekends and aspiring Bible teacher in my dreams. Grateful husband to the woman who completes me. Doing-the-best-I-can dad to the son and daughter who keep me on my toes. Striving disciple of the GodMan who came, taught and died for me. Thanks for stopping by!
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