Chiseling at God’s Workmanship

We are God’s workmanship.  But.. when will we be done? When will we each become who we’re supposed to be?

“On learning that weather erodes granite one inch every 100,000 years, sculptor Gutzon Borglum added an extra three inches to each president’s features on Mount Rushmore. ‘Three inches would require 300,000 years to bring the work down to the point that I would like to finish it,’ he said. ‘In other words, the work will not be done for another 300,000 years, as it should be.’” (Futility Closet)

We live in an increasingly fast-paced culture. (It’s probably cliché, by this point, to say that – and that’s because it’s been repeated so often, which is, in turn, because it’s increasingly true.)  Many of us expect instant results. Our movies stream, our coffee pours from pods, our education comes chunked into short videos, our spiritual lessons come in 500 word posts. (That last one is okay, though.)

We often operate over short time-frames. Even when we take longer, it’s “longer” relative to our time. And while God sometimes steps in and works something sudden and miraculous, He often seems to take a much longer view. (c.f. Psalm 90:4)  He is a craftsman that takes care and takes His time in crafting each piece.

Consider God’s work in the Old Testament. He spent thousands of years selecting and forming a people, generation after generation, all to get to one point in time. When Noah was hammering at the ark, God saw the hammering, too, at the cross.  When Moses stretched out his hands to part the Red Sea, God saw, too, Christ stretching out His hands to conquer sin and death.

“And what did God do? First of all He left us conscience, the sense of right and wrong: and all through history there have been people trying (some of them very hard) to obey it. None of them ever quite succeeded. Secondly, He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men. Thirdly, He selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God He was -that there was only one of Him and that He cared about right conduct. Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

He could have redeemed us with just a drop of his blood. Why did He give more? Because He had more to give. He could have fixed the sinful state of the world in a moment. Why did He take so long? Because He had the time to take. Because you are worth the blood and worth the time. We are worth the time, to Him, to become just how we should be.

Every day, God is chiseling away at you, at His masterpiece. He is doing that not to “finish you” today but to prepare you, to move you closer.  He chisels through His Church, through each visit to the Blessed Sacrament, through each Mass in which you participate. He chisels through His seven sacraments, seven channels from the reservoir of His grace that continue to wear away the stone of our hearts.  He began at our baptisms. He continues working through confession, through each reception of Himself in the Eucharist and each anointing with oil (operating from within, as well as without). He forges instruments on earth through Holy Orders, so His work can continue visibly in the Church.

How good is our God, that He takes His time with us. We mustn’t be in a greater hurry than our Creator, and trust that, in His time, we will be what He wants us to be — so long as we let Him work.  We have to be hammered, yes, and that can hurt and it can take time. It can seem like we’re not making any progress. But in the end, when everything else has weathered away, what’s left is just what — just who — He intends, for eternity.

Copyright 2015, Joe Wetterling

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Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling is a professional educator, homeschooling dad, and writer. He's appeared at national conferences, both secular and religious, speaking on education, technology, and philosophy. Joe writes online for New Evangelizers, as well as his own blogs. He's taught in the Holy Apostles MOOC program and currently teaches Natural Theology at the new Dominican Institute. He's a member of the Militia Immaculata and current President of the Catholic Writers Guild. Learn more about him at

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