“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
Labels are awful. They imprison us in categories that are hard to escape. Maybe you are familiar with labels too …
I am a wreck.
I am a people-pleaser.
I am unglued.
I am an insecure mess.
And the list goes on.
With all the struggles my family has been through this past year, it’s hard to look at social media and not feel the weight of life looking so different than I thought it would.
I labeled our situation as a mess and then resigned myself to never feeling normal again.
But one day, I found hope in an unexpected memory that came to mind.
I don’t often visit museums. However, I’d read some fascinating facts about Michelangelo’s David, and made it my mission several years ago to go and see the original at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy.
Sources say the artist never left his David. For more than two years, he worked on and slept beside the 6-ton slab of marble whose subject called to him from inside the unchiseled places. When at last the 17-foot David emerged, Michelangelo is reported to have said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” When asked how he made his statue, Michelangelo answered, “It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David.”
After a two-hour wait in a long line of tourists, I was about to see it for myself. I stopped just inside the narrow corridor, still 30 feet from the David. This was not where everyone else wanted to stop, and so I caused a bit of a traffic jam.
I understood why everyone rushed past me. Why would anyone stop to stare at the unfinished sculptures lining the hallway? Why attend to blocks of stone with roughly hewn, half-completed figures when sculpted perfection stands just a short walk away? Who would stop?
A woman captivated by seeing her interior reality vividly depicted in stone, that’s who. I stood in the shadow of one of the unfinished sculptures that’s part of this collection aptly titled Prisoners. And I stared.
I tilted my head and let it soak in. This less-noticed sculpture was me — an unfinished prisoner locked inside my self-imposed labels.
Then, I turned and looked down the corridor at the David, the statue fully chiseled by a master artist. As I walked toward it, I whispered, “O God, chisel me. I don’t want to be locked in my hard perceptions forever. I want to be all that You have in mind for me to be.”
It is beautiful when the Master chisels. God doesn’t want us to label ourselves and stay stuck. But He does want to make us aware of the chiseling that needs to be done. So, instead of condemning myself with statements like, I’m such a mess, I could say, Let God chisel. Let Him work on my hard places so I can leave the dark places of being stuck and come into the light of who He designed me to be.
God is calling us out — out of darkness, out from those places we thought would never get better, out of being stuck. And with His call comes His promise that He will complete the good work He began in us. (Philippians 1:6)
Lord, You are the Divine Artist. Thank You for applying Your creativity to me — first in creating me, and now in continuing to shape me into who You designed me to be. I surrender to Your work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)
Are you ever afraid you’re going to stay stuck in the same old cycles of defeat forever? Find freedom by learning new ways to experience God’s love with the help of Lysa TerKeurst’s new devotional, Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God is Holding You Close. Pre-order your copy here today, and receive free bonus resources!
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are there any areas of struggle in your life where you’ve labeled yourself a hopeless failure? Instead of condemning yourself, spend specific time in prayer this week, asking God to lovingly chisel your hard places so you can become all He’s designed you to be.
© 2018 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.