Many years ago, in the pre-“married with children” days, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks traveling around Europe. One of the cities I visited was Florence, Italy where I was taken to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece, “The Statue of David”, in the “Galleria dell’Accademia” museum. While that may have been the centerpiece of the museum, it was a different Michelangelo exhibit that really caught my attention. It was a collection of unfinished sculptures known as Michelangelo’s “Captives” (or “Prisoners”) that lined the corridor leading to the “David” exhibit. These were blocks of stone that the master sculptor had worked on but never completed. Some of them were nearly finished, others were half finished, while still others were barely even started.
What was so startling about the works was the way in which the figures just seemed to be emerging, fully human, from the blocks of stone but were somehow still held captive by it (thus the designation of “Captives”). Our tour guide explained to us that when Michelangelo selected a block of stone, he didn’t see it as a piece a stone. He saw the finished sculpture (“person”) trapped inside the stone waiting to be freed by the master’s skillful hands. Of course, it took years of work and many pounding hammer blows for a “trapped” sculpture to be “freed”, but the splendor of the finished David statue testified to the ultimate value of the undertaking.
I believe this is how God views us when we first come to him as his children. We come to him completely encased in sin & guilt, but he doesn’t view our sin & guilt (praise be to Jesus!). Rather, he sees the wondrous creature that will emerge after the “Master Craftsman” has had his way in us. It may take many years and many painful “hammer blows” to free us entirely from our captivity to sinful habits & behavior – just like the “Captives” lining the museum corridor, we’re all in different stages of progress – but the finished product will be a masterpiece far-surpassing anything we can hope for or even imagine.
Worship – Grow – Serve