day, years ago, as I was walking along in the
suburbs of a city, I came to a large shed with
wide-open doors. My attention was attracted by the
sound of blows; and as I came opposite the door, I
saw some workmen at the back end of the shed
busily at work. Near the door on a small platform
stood a large irregular piece of stone. Standing
by it was a man with a large chisel in one hand
and a heavy mallet in the other. As I looked be
walked up to the stone and began to knock great
pieces off it with chisel and mallet. I paused to
watch him; my curiosity aroused to know what he
was doing in his apparently aimless work.
As I watched, be continued breaking large
flakes and pieces from the stone; and so far as I
could see, he was just simply breaking it to
pieces. I wondered what he wanted such pieces of
stone for. But presently he began to kick them out
of the way as if he had no use for them, and so I
wondered still more what he was doing. After a
time he stepped over to his work box, took another
chisel and a lighter mallet, and began to knock
off more pieces of the stone. For a long time this
continued. I could not tell what the outcome would
be. So far I had seen nothing but destruction.
From time to time he changed tools; but still he
cut away pieces of stone in the same seemingly
aimless fashion. At length he began to cut
depressions into the stone here and there.
A long time I watched him, still wondering.
At last he made a few quick strokes on one end of
the stone, and I saw the outline of a head appear.
A few more strokes, and I exclaimed within myself,
"A lion!" I watched until the head became more
distinct and life-like. Then under the quick
strokes of the biting chisel, one paw appeared,
then another; and as I watched, the whole figure
took outline, and I knew that what seemed to be
only an aimless work of destruction was instead
the skilled work of a sculptor.
I had seen only the block of stone; but
within that block of stone he had seen the
beautiful figure of the king of beasts. The work,
that seemed to me, to be without purpose, now
proved to have been full of purpose. The pieces of
stone cut off were merely so much waste-material
that hid the beautiful statue.
I knew now that what would be left of the
stone after the sculptor had completed his work
would go to adorn some fine building and to be
looked upon and admired by many people. No one had
admired it in its former state. It was only a
block of stone, unattractive and of little value.
But it would now be a thing of beauty to be
treasured. Yet that change could take place only
when the sharp steel had bitten away all useless
I went away thoughtful. I realized that
that was a great allegory of life. The great
Sculptor sees in every human being, no matter how
rough and irregular, great possibilities. Whereas
we can see only the exterior, he sees within the
potential image with which he would adorn his
glorious building above. Man was created in the
image of God, but that image is now obscured by
sin and its results. And so the divine sculptor
must do with us as the sculptor did with the
stone. He must bring to bear upon us the sharp
chisel of circumstances, of disappointment, of
trial. It seems that these things will destroy us.
It seems that these things are evil, and we shrink
from them. Some think that God is not just toward
them. Some cry out in pain. Some mourn and lament.
Some cry to God to stay his hand. And many, oh,
how many! Rebel. They cannot see what it means.
They feel that it is all, wrong. Sometimes they
murmur against God and their hearts grow bitter;
but all the time the Master Sculptor with his
sharp chisel of pain is only trying to carve in
their natures and characters his own image.
You want to be in his image, do you not?
You desire the beautiful lines of righteousness,
purity, truth, meekness, faithfulness and kindness
to appear in you. You want to be a part of the
adornment of the heavenly temple. If you would be
not a mere block of stone without form or beauty,
but the image of the Creator, you must let pain do
her work in you; there is only one, way. Christian
character comes only through pain. If you shrink
and murmur; or if you rebel, that image may be
Think not that God will let your life be
ruined. He wants you for the adornment of his
palace. So when pain comes--the pain of sorrow, of
bereavement, of temporal loss, of being reproached
and having your name cast out as evil, of being
wounded by the tongue of slander--in whatever form
pain comes to you, hold still; bear it patiently;
it will work out in your life, God's great design.
Would you have patience? You must have many
things to try your patience. Would you have
meekness? You can obtain it only through
endurance. Would you have faith? You must meet and
overcome many obstacles. God puts in us latent
qualities of good, but these can be brought to
view in the solid structure of Christian character
only by long and continued chiseling. "Beloved,
think it not strange concerning the fiery trial
which is to try you, as though some strange thing
happened unto you" (1 Pet. 4:12). "Which is to try
you"--did you ever notice that? It does not say
which may try you or which probably will try you;
it says, "Which is to try you." That signifies
that it was intended to try you." It was meant for
that purpose; it does not come by accident. Trials
are necessary. If you are ever to be what God
wants you to be, you need trials, you must have
them; you can never be strong or patient or meek
or brave or possess any other virtue God wants you
to have unless you stand the test, "Many shall be
purified, made white, and tried" God will do the
purifying; and he will also see that we get our
"trying." "After that ye have suffered a while,
"Peter says, God will "make you perfect, stablish,
strengthen, settle you."
The chisel pain must do its work. Even
Jesus was "made perfect through suffering." Let us
bear it manfully, yea, joyfully, knowing that it
will leave its mark upon us, even the mark of our
Lord Jesus Christ. It will bring out the beauty
and richness of the Christ-life and fit us to be
in His presence forever.