Any project begins with the raw materials --lumber, metal, clay, canvas and brush—that a craftsman will shape into something they envision. The plan is always to bring into existence a thing that didn’t previously exist, something that was only in the imagination of the artisan. A part of that plan that is little recognized is that the object, the finished artwork already exists in the materials—the potential is there—and it is the loving hand of the artist that brings it out. God views his creation in the same way, particularly his prized creations, you and I.
In the span between raw material and finished product comes the process of shaping. The lumber, for example, is not just fashioned together to make a table or chair. It must be cut and planed and jointed and drilled and routed to form the parts needed for the final project. Some of these operations are violent; rip or cross cutting to the size of a blank in the rough size needed. The result is often pieces of lumber that discarded, set aside for the burn pile because they cannot be utilized in the envisioned project. Other operations take a finer touch. The scrape of finely honed #5 plane down the length of a table top lifts paper thin shavings that flutter to the shop floor as the artist sneaks up on the exact width needed to fit the apron she has in mind.
God works on us in the same fashion. Sometimes He attacks our root sins, forcefully moving us to discard them from our lives. Usually, this is an uncomfortable but necessary step as we see parts of our former life cut off and laid aside for the burn pile. At other times he uses the meditation on a passage of scripture to finely shape us in a particular area of our person. Some of the operations leave us radically changed while others sneak up on us, shaping us in ways that we don’t recognize at first, but later, we wonder how we ever acted any differently.
From the potential of our raw selves to the finished project, God views us in lifelong terms. He is never in a hurry to finish and there is always something further that He has planned for his masterworks. When we come to understand and accept that this is being done out of the Artist’s love for the finished work we can enjoy the process. Look forward to what you are becoming, not what you were.