Brushes and Chisels (by Len Winneroski, from Our Glory Is His)

If we were made to share in God’s Glory what does that look like in our lives? I think that it looks like a worn out paintbrush. Amongst Michelangelo’s greatest artistic achievements are nine ceiling paintings that depict scenes from the Book of Genesis. He painted them over a four-year period from 1508 to 1512. These paintings can be viewed in Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel. The most famous of these ceiling paintings is arguably The Creation of Adam.

Wouldn’t it be neat if you could go back in time to watch Michelangelo paint this incredible fresco image in the Sistine Chapel? Close your eyes and daydream with me…

Imagine that you are standing in the center of the Sistine Chapel watching Michelangelo paint atop his homemade wooden scaffolding. Image that after a while he notices you admiring his work and stops painting. He looks down at you and shouts, “Do you want to help me?”

Feel your heart start pounding in your chest and feel the tingling sensation at even being noticed by this master artist. Part of you is jumping at the chance to meet and work with Michelangelo, but reality makes you shout back that you don’t want to ruin such a beautiful painting. You tell him that you are just fine admiring his work from the ground.

Now imagine that Michelangelo chuckles and begins to descend the scaffolding. You realize that he wants to talk to you face-to-face. He doesn’t want to shout. As he walks over to you and stretches out his hand to greet you, your own trembling hand automatically reaches for his out of instinct. Michelangelo looks tired. He is covered with plaster and paint blotches. He has a knowing smile on his face and he looks directly into your eyes and says, “I just need somebody to hold the brush…I’ll do the rest.”

Despite your polite objections, the next thing you know you are following the artist back up the scaffolding and are holding a brush.  As you turn the paint-caked brush over in your hands you are surprised to see that it is old and very worn. You wonder why he is still even using it. His hand touches yours and he tells you to hold the brush gently. To only use enough pressure to keep the brush from falling out of your hand. He guides the frayed brush and dips it into some paint and then he reminds you again to just “relax.”

You stand there feeling his breath on the back of your neck. You listen to his humming as he moves your hand slowly, filling in the sketched images with the freshly mixed colors. After about thirty minutes you are almost in a trance as you watch your hand being guided between the paint and the image. You start to see the shape of a hand forming on the freshly laid plaster. “Wow!” you exclaim as you realize that you are participating in the creation of something amazing…

Now imagine that your neck is starting to ache from looking up at the ceiling. Your wonder is starting to mix with the reality of the pain in your neck. You ask Michelangelo if you can rest a bit and he whispers, “certainly.” He gently takes the brush from your hand and continues to paint where you left off. You sit there for a moment admiring his work and wonder why he isn’t tired, too. After a while you ask if you can “help” him again and he says, “Absolutely!”

This time you are a little more confident, and despite his reminder to just relax and let him guide your hand, you use a little more force. You decide that you have learned enough and you start painting on your own. As you paint with more confidence you feel Michelangelo’s hand slip off of yours. You hear him backing away from you to watch. Now you realize what you have done and you stop painting and look back at your mentor. He doesn’t say anything so you look back at the painting and realize that it is not nearly as good as the section next to it. The section that you had painted together.

This is just a story, but I believe that it is a powerful illustration of how God works His Glory through our lives. The Lord is looking for men and women who want to be used by Him. He is looking for people who would rather be a well-read paperback book than a shiny new hard-covered book that is placed on a shelf to be admired. Those that are willing to be a book that has been read so many times that the cover is falling off and the tear-stained pages are starting to fall out of the bindings. He is looking for people who understand that they exist to bring God Glory through their lives. He is looking for people who would rather paint with the Master than paint alone. He is looking for people who would rather be a well-worn brush in the Master’s hand than a statue to be admired by men.

Taken from Our Glory Is His which is available from amazon:

One thought on “Brushes and Chisels (by Len Winneroski, from Our Glory Is His)

  1. That was beautiful, Len. Brought a little tear to my eye. 🙂 I’m confident that many others will also be blessed. Thank you for the God- breathed painting. -Carla

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