Have you ever witnessed someone experience the pain of being sculpted?  I have.  It can be a horrible process to observe.

Michelangelo said, “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”  Our Lord can clearly envision, in our rugged blocks of marble, the potential to form the very image of Christ.  He “makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image” (2 Cor 3:18).  


But the process of having pieces chipped away by a hammer and chisel is nothing short of excruciatingly painful.  Over time, when we truly begin to bear the likeness of Jesus, and the chisel must work closer and closer to the core of who we were designed to be, the pain only increases.  At first, when we look nothing like Jesus, the chunks of rock that are removed are obvious and our grief may be minimal, but as we grow closer to His image, we may be surprised at what pieces still need to be removed.  We may think we love, but it’s not yet like Christ loves.  We may think we forgive, but it doesn’t come close to resembling the no-record-of-wrongs forgiveness Christ demonstrated to those around Him as He hung on the cross.  Our righteousness is being painfully chipped away so that eventually all that remains is Jesus Himself. 


Remember, Jesus only rebukes and disciplines those He loves (Rev 3:18).  The Father only prunes branches that bear fruit so that they may bear even morefruit (John 15:2). Despite the often unbearable pain that accompanies that sharp chisel, what a comfort to know that He only shapes us because He loves us!  He only prunes away superfluous branches because He there is evidence of fruit in our lives and He wants to help us produce more!

When asked how he created such majestic statues, an anonymous sculptor famously replied, “I simply chip away everything that doesn’t look like the desired finish product.”  
 
Lord, chip away everything in our lives that is not like You. 
Spirit, comfort us as we recover.