A nearly empty room. The tap, tap, tapping of metal against rock, the skittering bits of stone across the hardwood floor. The scent of earth. Chips of marble scattered, ready to be tossed away.
And beyond the dust motes dancing in the streaming light, a huge, ugly chunk of marble.
And an artist. Creating a masterpiece.
It took Michelangelo more than two years to find David in that block of marble, but the David in the marble didn’t have a mind of its own. It didn’t resist the chisel.
You do. I do. And our children do, too.
I fell in love with my children when they were still swimming in my womb. I prayed for them before they were born, and I’ve prayed for them daily ever since. I had dreams for them. Their father and I taught them right from wrong. We taught them about God and love and hope and Christ. And now we have teenagers who sometimes seem to want to forget all they’ve learned.
We’re not alone. One look at the kids streaming out of my son’s high school, and I know other parents are asking the same questions about their kids. What did we do wrong? Why would they do these things?
Some of these teens make stupid choices that lead to serious consequences. They reject their parents’ rules and rebel against their authority in search of freedom, only to find the worst kinds of slavery.
And even when they make good choices, they find trouble. Their friends attack them. They’re rejected and maligned for standing up for their beliefs. They try and fail and fail again.
My children’s suffering is the most difficult, painful thing I’ve ever witnessed, and in most cases, there’s nothing I can do to help. I try to lead them to make better choices. They ignore me. I offer to help them with a project, with homework, with friends. They reject all my offers.
I cry out to God. “Make them happy, Lord. Help them through this. Let them succeed. Why must they suffer so?”
Then one day, I heard a whisper in my soul. “Have you ever drawn nearer to me apart from suffering?”
I reluctantly shook my head. “No, Lord.”
“Have you not prayed their whole lives that they would know Me?”
“This is the path.”
It is not the path I would have chosen for them. I would make their lives all Disney and cupcakes, if it were up to me. I would make them so smart, they’d never need to study. So talented, they’d win every contest. So beautiful, the world would stand in awe. But what lessons are there in that? They would never cease to be ugly chunks of marble.
Through their rebellion, their struggles, and their sufferings, the Sculptor is chipping away at that chunk of marble to create a masterpiece, just like God promises in Ephesians 2:10. “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.” (NLT)
If that’s what it takes to make them His, then have your way, dear Lord.