Occasionally we hear or read something that paints a picture so vivid that we never forget it. Often that picture gives us insight into life and our understanding of it. As an English teacher and avid reader I love to see the images and metaphors that fill our lives.
One impressive metaphor I have come across depicts a Christian as a sculpture and God as the sculptor. The sculptor chooses a piece of stone (Like Michelangelo who chose exquisite marble) or even a huge block of ice (we are all different). The sculptor sees within his or her chosen medium a picture of the shape that he (or she) wants to create and then goes about his (or her) work.
The secret is that the artist takes away every piece of stone or ice that doesn’t conform to the shape in his mind. The sculpture is his vision. He can see it. He is very careful to only chip away at the marble or ice which doesn’t belong to that final creation.
God is very much like that with us. He sees us as perfect. He has created us from conception. He knew us even before we were born. (Psalm 139) Every day that we were to live God knew in advance. He created us to love and serve Him. The picture is in His mind of what we should and could become. We don’t have to do that ourselves. What we have to do is to help remove all the unnecessary bits so that the true nature of God is revealed in us. It’s a bit like the verses from Ephesians where it tells us to “put off” the old stuff that clouds God’s image in us like disagreeableness, confusion, rudeness, pessimism, harshness and ignorance. Instead, we should reveal (put on) the Christ-like qualities of agreeableness, order, love, courtesy, optimism, kindness and knowledge.
I suppose it’s the same with our children or our students. We need to see in them a picture of what they will become in a perfect world. We cannot in our own strength push them into that mould. Like God does with us, we should help them to remove those qualities that are not helpful to them growing up to be the best they can be. Instead we should, by our own example, and covering them with prayer, show them how to adopt those values which will bring them safely into hope-filled maturity and into the image of Christ.
My English teacher self could extend this metaphor on and on but I won’t. I’ll just ask, “What vision do you have for your children or your students? You have the tools of prayer and wise advice with loving discipline.