A Real Piece of Work


An early, unfinished work by Michelangelo: "Dave"

An early, unfinished work by Michelangelo: “Dave”

I was born a rough hunk of uncut stone. 

But I didn’t remain in my unformed state for long, because it seems everyone I encountered wielded a hammer and chisel. Some swung their hammers with good intentions and some with other motives. Either way, with every blow of the hammer, the chisel made its mark.

But tools weren’t the only things that made an impact on me as the years unfolded. Some incidental cuts occurred along the way. Over time, those circumstantial nicks and gouges altered my form.

After several decades, I looked in the mirror to see how I was taking shape.

I had become a rough-hewn hunk of misshapen stone.

Then came a season when I took a furious and sustained pounding. Iron tools clanked. Sparks flew. Fragments scattered. I teetered, tipped over, and fell with a crash. I was so badly fractured that, for a long time, I was afraid to go out in public. Everyone could see that my block was cracked.

What I saw in the mirror was a real piece of work.

Who am I? And what am I becoming?

The truth was something I couldn’t see in the mirror.

I am a masterpiece. I also happen to be a gifted artist.

So are you.

Erwin McManus expresses this truth so well in his book, The Artisan Soul. Every one of us is created in the image of God. As God’s image-bearers, we are His creative workmanship and His creative workers. We are “works of art and artists at work.”

Our lives are the masterworks that we offer to the world. The Master Artist is always at work in us, sculpting and shaping us. But He also invites us to participate in the creative work He is doing. Sometimes He holds the chisel at the precise angle and lets us swing the hammer. Other times He calls us to hold the chisel while He strikes a perfect blow. As we cooperate with the Master Artist, we become more and more like Him.

Created to create, we begin to imagine what God already sees, and partner with Him as He brings it into being. Then something amazing happens. We discover that the Master Sculptor has redeemed every hack, whack, chip and gouge of our past in order to form our present selves and shape our future being. 

Sure, I’m a piece of work and a work in progress..But I’m also a “work of art and an artist at work.” So, if you’ll excuse me, I have some creative work to do.

When you look in the mirror, how do you see yourself?



6 thoughts on “A Real Piece of Work

  1. I am both figures in the Pieta, static in sad stillness

    The Mother, mourning a loss she could not prevent.

    I am the Son, broken under the wheel of Inevitability.

    But to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, there is a rumor going around these pats that we will be one day be static no more, and that are stone limbs will be infused with real blood.

    His blood.

    • Beautifully said, Andrew.
      The Master’s heart is with the suffering. He sits quietly with us in our pain.
      We know He is working through our pain to produce something eternally glorious in us. But the wait is long when the suffering is great.
      I grieve to think of you in silent sadness, waiting for the great unveiling.
      But believe the rumors. Trust the “news from a far country.”
      It’s all true.
      Thank you, Andrew, for speaking hope in sorrow.

  2. This one reminds me of a button I received at a Bill Gothard seminar “Basic Life Principles” in the 70’s. It read, “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me”.

    • You are right on the money with that life principle, Mr. Bob.
      God may not be finished with you yet, but I can honestly say that I love what He has done with you so far! Thanks for your valuable contribution to the discussion.

  3. I tried to comment earlier but I got kicked off. 🙂

    What a beautiful post, Dave. Personally, I don’t really like looking in the mirror. I’m finding that when I can look in the mirror through God’s lenses, I can see more of what He’s crafting within me. I don’t mind looking so much then. But, when I look into the mirror through my own lenses, I see my own failings, shortcomings. I’m learning to look more and more through God’s perspective, but it’s a discipline to do this. It’s a process I’ll probably be learning until I meet Him face to face.

    Thanks for giving me good thoughts to contemplate today!

  4. I don’t know what happened there, Jeanne, but I am glad you came back to give it another try!
    You’re right. It is a discipline to practice seeing what God sees.
    The enemy is always handing us his fault-finding glasses so that we see ourselves through his distorted lenses.
    I think you have hit upon the simple truth that can be so difficult for us to practice–seeing ourselves as God sees us–with the “gaze of love” as Brennan Manning put it.
    Thank you so much for your comments, Jeanne.

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