George Bowers Sr.: Let us yield ourselves to shaping work of perfect sculptor
February is quite a historical month for our country. Not only is it Black History Month, but it is also when we celebrate the birthdays of two of our nation’s preeminent presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. William Henry Harrison and Ronald Wilson Reagan were also February babies, although their births are not commemorated with a national holiday. At least not yet.
The leadership provided by Washington and Lincoln is hard to overestimate, for each of them led our nation through critical periods of both war and conflict. Because of their devotion and wise guidance our country not only survived those difficult times, but grew stronger as a result. Today, these two men have their faces chiseled out of the rocks of Mount Rushmore along with Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt, both of whom also provided outstanding leadership for the U.S.
This monument of grand scale is truly an impressive testament not only to the men whose faces appear there, but also to the men who carved them out. Gutzon Borglum and some 400 workers labored 14 years to release the four faces from the solid granite. They used carefully placed charges of dynamite as well as jack hammers and pneumatic chisels to remove all the stone that didn’t resemble the individuals whose likenesses they were recreating. Such a feat would be a monumental undertaking today, and how much more so in the 1930s. It’s no wonder many Americans visit this landmark every year and cherish it as one of their favorites.
The work of the artists in shaping the existing rock helps us to understand the work of the holy sculptor in the lives of Christians. Although Jeremiah refers to us as clay in the potter’s hands, I fear that most of us are more like solid rock fiercely resisting the Spirit’s work. Because we often ignore the gentle directives of God’s word, he has little choice but to employ more radical methods. Many times it takes explosive events to force us to yield the excesses of our character. When we resist his tender nudges and more firm commands, he is left with no choice but to get out his jack hammer to chisel off that which doesn’t resemble Jesus, and his dynamite to blast away those behaviors that mar his image.
Ultimately, his goal is to reveal himself through us. As Harold Martin has said, “God’s great purpose in saving people is not merely to get us to believe in Christ so that we can escape hell and go to heaven. His purpose is to conform us to the image of his son.”
Jesus’ beautiful visage, however, is deeply buried under our sin and selfishness. We closely and aggressively repel any effort to fundamentally change us, even when that is what we most need. Sadly, unlike the stone which has no will, we can indeed resist the work of the Holy Spirit so long that he eventually leaves us as we are. Instead of becoming all God could see in his mind’s eye for us, we are left as rugged, shapeless, ugly forms that neither glorify him, satisfy self, nor benefit others.
As we celebrate the birthdays of these two great leaders this February and contemplate their places in history, as well as on Mount Rushmore, let us yield ourselves to the shaping work of the perfect sculptor who desires an outcome for us even more incredible and beautiful than we can ever begin to imagine. May we allow him to reveal Jesus in us. Learning to yield, George
George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books including his latest book of poetry, Holy Verses. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.