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.- Michelangelo
What a fantastic quote… and one that is incredibly powerful, if we allow ourselves to think through what it actually means in the here and now to those of us who are not gifted artists but who are trying to create something worthwhile out of nothing, using the skill sets that God has given us.
Romans 4:17 says that God called into existence the things that do not exist. That’s an astonishing thought, and even more so when you realise that we were created in God’s image, with the responsibility to do the same as He does. Paul was referring to the fact that Abraham believed in the God who could do that, and as a result, this childless man ended up being the father of more descendants than there is sand on the seashore.
Each of us, regardless of our position in society or church, is called to see what God sees and take responsibility to bring to pass what God envisions. That means we have to have vision too, but more than that, we have to have the pushthroughitiveness to make it happen. We have to have the ability to get the statue, the vision, the idea that we see, out of the marble block and into the real world. The process of doing that is not easy, nor is it for the fainthearted.
We begin with the hard marble block of ‘nothing’ and start to chip away. We make phone calls. We do a lot of walking and talking, a lot of thinking and consulting. We fast and pray. Paper work and experiments to find out what may work and how it will work. We try different things, some of them crazy and bizarre, and we put a lot of effort in without initially seeing much difference.
At first, there are very few results. Our block of marble seems as impenetrable as it ever was, a bit smaller maybe, but still grey, broken and shapeless. The only sound we can hear is the chips we’ve knocked off, crunching under our feet.
Can you still see the statue at that point? Does your heart still envision why you’re doing what you’re doing?
If the statue is ever going to emerge from the marble… if a ‘David’ or a horse or whatever you’ve first saw is to escape the marble, the only option is to keep chipping away. You have to keep remembering what you saw at first and why you thought it was worth giving up so much in order to bring it into existence. You have to stay aware that the world needs what you’re creating, building, setting free from its prison of invisibility. If you give up at this point, all you’re left with is the cold, grey marble chunk that will forever imprison the vision God has called you to bring into existence… yesterdays filled with ‘if only’s’.
Part way through the initial stages of every new project, when the original enthusiasm has dimmed and no ‘thing’ has emerged from the nothingness, is the crucial time to keep seeing the vision, keep knowing the call, keep aware of the future that is being created with your hard slog and determination.
God is at work in your efforts. He’s there whether you see or feel Him right now or not. When He gives the vision to you, He also places within you the capacity to see it come to fruition. Don’t give up now… you’re going to breakthrough and what never existed before will come into being because you and God collaborated together to help the statue escape the marble.
Keep chipping … keep remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing. People may stand around and tell you that you’re a failure, that what you’re working on will never happen…that the marble is just that… a block of marble. Just because they can’t see the statue doesn’t mean it’s there. As you stay with it, gradually the form of your vision begins to emerge and some will see it. Further down the track more and more will come by and say ‘oh, I love what you’re building’. Ultimately, the beauty of the project, polished and glorious, full and firm and working beautifully, stands for all to see… just because someone could see the statue in the marble. Because someone paid the price to you co-labour with God to build something amazing out of nothing.
Vision is from God, whether it’s for a business, a church, a project… or a marble statue. Don’t give up because you can only see marble. Every tiny chip, every blow, brings you closer to ushering the beautiful vision you see, into the public eye, where everyone will be able to see it. Don’t give up. It’s worth all the energy and focus that you’re giving it.
I write this with love to all the nameless faceless visionaries out there trying to change your world for the good… don’t let the turkeys get you down. Keep going, the chips around your feet are the evidence that something amazing is being built… it’s emerging even now. When God’s at work in us, it will work… don’t grow weary in well doing for in due season you will reap… if you don’t lose heart.