I am beginning a new sermon series, Making David, this Sunday at South Lansing Christian Church.
Imagine Michelangelo walking around the stone that would become David. The six-foot high slab of marble awaits his chisel. Blow by blow, bit by bit, this master artisan shapes the shapeless into a masterpiece. Surrounded by shards of stone, he lays down his tools and stares in wonder at the form that has emerged. It is finished, perfect, a work for the ages.
God shapes us into who he wants us to be, too. The artist’s medium is stone or maybe clay; God works in flesh and blood. The artist uses his hands, a mallet, chisels of various shape and size; God uses people in our lives to make us into who he wants us to be. Our relationships – both those that are good and those that are bad – shape us and mold us. It is unlikely that David would have become “a man after God’s own heart” without the people he experienced – and in some cases endured.
I think of some of the people who have helped shape me into the person I am today. I remember being fired from one of my first jobs. I baled hay for my uncle Miles. He told me to be at the farm at 10 AM but, because of problems with the baler, the first load didn't arrive until well after lunch. When it came time to settle up, I complained about not being paid for the time I wasted waiting. Big mistake. Uncle Miles never called me to bale again. The lesson: choose very carefully when and if you plan to confront the boss.
I remember the encouragement of Pearl Gerner and Mary Pearson in my early years and Lloyd Mealer in more recent years. They helped me to find and follow my calling. I am grateful for friends like Fred and Mike and Mike and countless others who stand beside me whether they've been next door or in the next state.
There have been a couple of Nathans in my life, too - people who've lovingly but firmly confronted me when I messed up. I once planned a church-wide, month-long prayer emphasis while the Senior Minister was out of town. He returned from vacation to find out his Associate Minister had committed him to preach on prayer for the next few weeks. Gary was really cool about it, but he made it clear that I needed to communicate better.
All of us have people in our lives who have helped shape us. Who has helped shape you?