Let God Chisel

david

Do you sometimes look at your life and think, “That’s just not me?” It happens to the best of us. It may be that you see a few things you’ve done out of character or at least not who you want to be. It may even be that you woke up one day wondering how you got to this place where your actions aren’t an accurate representation of what’s in your heart. Maybe you’re like me, and you try so hard to be the one in control of your emotions but find that sometimes they are in control of you, and the result is something you don’t want to be.

This week I learned some things about Michelangelo’s statue, David, which really left me awestruck. For instance, did you know that Michelangelo was only 26 years old when he starting carving this masterpiece? Interestingly enough, he wasn’t the 1st artist to work on the sculpture. He was actually the 3rd. The other two gave up, but Michelangelo was confident he could do it.

In my reading this week, something really resonated with me. It was a quote from Michelangelo himself. After two years of working on, living with, and sleeping beside this statue-in-the-making, “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 is reported to have said, ‘It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David.’”[i]

Wow! Everything about this statue coming into existence is fascinating, but read that last sentence again. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David.

Think about those things in your life that don’t look like you. They don’t reflect your heart’s desire, and they aren’t representative of who you are. This is where you need to just let God chisel. Like Michelangelo, who never left David until he was completed, God has never and will never leave your side. Ever.

As long as you allow him to, God will chip away all those things that don’t look like you. It’s a process, so be patient. Trust that you are his masterpiece, and he knows exactly what parts need to be chiseled and what parts need to remain intact. The end product will be absolutely breathtaking.

For more information about Michelangelo’s David, you can visit Accademia.org

[i] TerKeurst, Lysa. Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. P. 35

An Eye For An Eye – Vengeance Is Mine

Courtesy of Disney's Inside Out - Anger

Courtesy of Disney’s Inside Out – Anger

A few days ago I posted a legitimate question on one of my social networking pages. I asked how to respond realistically but biblically when someone continues to “slap” you. I even gave the scripture of turning the other cheek when someone slaps you (Matthew 5:38-39) because I know that’s the scripture one goes to when a question like that is asked.

Turning the other cheek sounds great and all, but in real life, I need to know what that looks like and what to do when constantly being slapped in the face by the same individual. I believe my words were something like, “What do you offer up when you’ve already had both cheeks, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, arms, legs, body, feet slapped many times over?”

Let’s Be Real Here

Am I the only one who struggles with wanting to retaliate when someone blatantly hurts me, most especially when it’s a constant thing? As much as I want to be the “good Christian woman”, I have a terrible time with the follow through part of that.  You know, the turning-the-other-cheek-and-offering-help-and-love-to-the-offender part. Why is that so difficult for me?

So here I am, yet another sleepless night, and I have a million things racing through my brain. The incident that provoked this question being one of them. After 3 hours of wide eyes, I decided to have some alone time with my Daddy God. Honestly, I had nothing specific in mind as far as what scripture to read, or if I would even read it, and I had no idea what I was going to pray. The funny thing is, God always knows what we need to hear, and he lead me to a story I’ve known forever but had not heard it the way I heard it from him tonight . . . or this morning – whatever it now is.

In Genesis 37 and Genesis 50, my answer was so clearly laid out. In short:

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. They plotted to kill him, which changed to them deciding to throw him in a cistern to die (so they weren’t technically the ones killing him), but then they decided to sell him as a slave to some passersby, and they sold him pretty cheap, too. They came back and let their dad believe Joseph was killed by a wild animal.

Those passersby who purchased Joseph, sold him to someone else. It turns out, the one who purchased him was the captain of the guard of Pharaoh. Through many wrongs being done to him, many slaps in the face, Joseph never complained about his circumstances. He never fought back. He didn’t blame his circumstances on his brothers when he very easily could have harbored hate and anger.

Instead, what we see from Joseph is that he took every opportunity to listen to God and obey whatever he told him, and he ended up being Pharaoh’s right hand man, so to speak. God blessed him in ways he couldn’t have even imagined had his circumstances been different.

Fast forward many years, and the brothers had to depend on Joseph for provision during a famine. He gave graciously to them rather than leaving them to die just as they had intended to do for him.

The part that hit me, though, was after his father died, and his brothers came back asking to be forgiven. Let me pause from the story to be completely up front with you. I am human, and more times than I would like to admit, my flesh wins in the battle between it and my Spirit. I look at my particular situation, and I hear the “I’m sorrys” from this person, but I don’t believe them, and I may or may not say they are forgiven, but even if I say “I forgive,” that anger is still there depending on what the action was. In Joseph’s situation, it would be very difficult not to hold on to that hurt and anger.

That’s not what he did, though.  Verses 19-21 say:

Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives . . .” (NIV)

The scripture goes on to say – get ready for this one – . . . And he spoke kindly to them.

OUCH. Joseph not only provided for them when they were in need, but he forgave them for selling him as a slave, AND he did it all while speaking KINDLY to them.

Wow. I’ve failed. I’ve not only failed, but I’ve failed over and over again.

This is what the scripture in Matthew means. Someone slaps you on your left cheek, so you offer up your right. You don’t seek revenge. You love, and you offer help to them even if it’s the shirt off your back. This story of Joseph tells us exactly what that looks like in real life. It tells us that God can use any situation to save others, and it tells us that he will protect us in all situations if we just allow him to. Are we really allowing him to protect us and utilize us if we are angry and yelling and constantly thinking about yet another way we were wronged by the same person?

How are we to reach people if that’s where we stay? How can we focus on others if we are constantly fighting that same battle with that same person – or any battle to defend ourselves against those who have wronged us, for that matter?

We can’t.

I don’t know if the story of Joseph speaks to you in the way it spoke to me, but I hope this speaks to someone out there who might feel like they’ve been kicked down too many times and are at a loss for how to defend themselves. Our society today so quickly jumps at the opportunity to cause an uproar when they feel they are being wronged. I’m guilty of it. I won’t pretend I’m above that. None of us want to be wronged, and it seems unrealistic to “turn the other cheek.”

Step with me outside of society’s way of thinking, and let’s give it a try. Don’t hang on to it. Don’t talk about it constantly. Don’t let your mind drift back to it throughout the day. And . . . speak kindly each time you speak to that person. Let’s see how life changes for us. I’m ready. How about you?

Broken Crayons

broken crayons

I ran across this quote a while back, and I saved it because I knew I wanted to somehow use it one day.  That one day came just a month or so later when a student wrote about how broken she is, and she wasn’t sure how useful she could be for God.  I immediately remembered it and shared it with her:  Broken crayons still color.

I believe the full quote is, We are all a little broken, but last time I checked, broken crayons still color the same. 

The Untouched Crayon

Did you know that broken crayons can be used to do things that in-tact, undamaged, unbroken crayons can’t do?

In order to be an undamaged crayon, it can’t be dull, the label is still neatly placed around it with no scratches or tears, and it essentially has to be untouched by everyone.  It only stays in-tact and undamaged (or unbroken) by remaining in the safety of its box and never serving its purpose. It’s during the process of serving its purpose that it becomes dull, needs to be sharpened, or sometimes even breaks.

One of the things people don’t understand is during the process of serving its purpose, a change will occur.  How many times have you thrown a crayon out or moved past it to a new one simply because there is a noticeable change in its appearance and in how it colors?  This change is different from what occurs when its broken into more than one piece.  Don’t confuse the two.

Crayons Break

Although a crayon can break in the midst of serving its purpose, unfortunately, they sometimes break by other means.  Someone might be careless and drop it or step on it.  Sometimes someone might get overly eager or passionate about their work and simply color too hard with it.  Sure, it’s serving its purpose, but neither the creator of the crayon nor the person coloring with it intended for it to break.  Sometimes someone else may ask to borrow the crayon, and they just may not take care of it the way they should since it doesn’t belong to them.  They may leave it on the floor to accidentally be stepped on and broken by themselves or someone else.

No matter how a crayon is broken, it never has to be thrown away.  There are still so many uses for the broken crayon. It can continue to serve its purpose — just in a different way, and sometimes you can even find uses for the broken ones that you couldn’t do with those that have been untouched.

One of my favorite things to do is to take a small, broken crayon that no longer has its label and rub the page with the long side of it.  Even better is to lay something under the paper so when I color I’m able to see an outline of what lies beneath.  What are some fun uses you’ve found for your broken crayons?

I have the urge to color now! 

Fun ideas for broken crayons or small crayon pieces:

These are just a few ideas.  Feel free share your ideas for broken crayons.