One of my favorite stories originated from Henri Nouwen, I think. I’ll retell it with my own embellishment. It’s one worth repeating.
The story is of a young schoolboy who attended art class on Tuesday evenings at a local studio. The entryway led into a lower level where a stone sculptor was hard at work with hammer and chisel. The young boy would glance over at the hard working sculptor each week before going upstairs for his own art lessons.
In time the boy noticed that from the block of stone there began to emerge a foot….no, make that……a paw. In another week there were two then three then four powerful paws. As weeks went by there would be legs, then a body and finally an enormous head, eyes and mane. It was a lion. A stately, majestic lion.
One week as the boy entered, the sculptor was putting the finishing touches to his creative work. The sculptor, having caught on to the observant interest of his young critic, asked, “Well, what do you think?”
The boy stood a moment contemplating then he spoke. “I’ve just got one question”.
“What’s that?” the sculptor queried.
“How did you know that lion was in there?” the boy asked.
This story has always impressed me with the idea that we each start out as just a big block of stone. The Grand Sculptor shapes us with hammer and chisel until we bear the image he has in mind. Any stone resisting the shape of the Master’s chisel will remain an unremarkable unshaped mass.
The process is unsightly and messy. Hammer and chisel meet their mark. Chips fly. Dust and residue scatters. But you’ve got to be a mess before you’ll be a masterpiece. When God is finished with us we will be fully His creation. And what He had in mind.
He sees something inside us that we ourselves do not even see.
The wise will allow the Sculptor to shape and create. The resistant will remain a block of stone.