In 1464, a statue was commissioned for the cathedral in Florence, Italy, and a single, giant piece of marble was chosen from a quarry. Work was first begun in 1464 by a sculptor named Agostino di Duccio. Agostino only got as far as beginning to shape the legs, feet, and the torso before he gave up in frustration. Ten years later, it was taken up by Antonio Rossellino; however, very little progress was made and his contract was terminated soon thereafter.
Both sculptors had, in the end, rejected the enormous block of marble due to the presence of too many fissures and imperfections, which may have threatened the stability of such a huge statue. It seemed the rock just had too many problems and risks to ever amount to a great masterpiece. It then lay neglected for 25 years. During this time, it was exposed to the elements, standing through 25 years of sweltering sun, driving rain, wind, and even an occasional snow.
Finally, in 1501, 26-year-old Michelangelo was contracted to finish shaping the gigantic piece of marble. He began work early on the morning of September 13, 1501. He would work on the statue for over 2 years before unveiling His 17-foot-tall masterpiece, David, which is still probably the most famous sculpture in the world.
While other artists saw a block of marble with too many imperfections to be usable, Michelangelo saw David. He said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
The thing that changed a shapeless hunk of marble into a world-famous piece of art wasn’t the quality of the rock, it was the vision of the artist. The same thing is true in our lives. Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
When you look in the mirror, do you see a magnificent work of art, or do you see a shapeless block of stone, full of cracks and imperfections? Just like Michelangelo used all sorts of different tools like hammers, various chisels, and brushes to remove unwanted stone and refine other parts into perfection, God uses all sorts of different tools in our lives as he removes unwanted parts and refines and polishes other parts. He uses His word and our worship, as well as the works of our hands and even the difficulty of warfare.
There are three little-known, and rather unique techniques Michelangelo used to create his masterpiece. God often uses these same techniques in his work on each of us.
- Michelangelo worked in total secrecy during the years he pounded away at his sculpture – God often does much of His work in our lives while we are seemingly hidden away in total obscurity. In fact, He seems to make a habit of finding unknowns like Moses and David anonymously tending sheep and elevating them to masterpiece status.
- Because of the size of the statue, Michelangelo worked outside. He, and the marble, were constantly exposed to the elements – Often the greater the destiny God has planned, the harsher the elements to which we are exposed.
- Michelangelo used a unique technique to accomplish his vision: he created a wax model and submerged it in water. Then he would drain a little water at a time, exposing only the part of the statue on which he was working – This is such an accurate picture of the way our lives develop. It seems we know so little of God’s plans for us in the early stages. Each day, as we look in the mirror, a few more inches of God’s work emerge. Only God knows what still lies below the water level in your life.
So, through the days of anonymity, storms, or wondering what God is up to in your life, rest assured that He is right there with you, pounding away to create His masterpiece in your life.