What Michelangelo Saw

Sculptors see angels buried in the stone!

In her book, Eighth Day of Creation, Elizabeth O'Connor tells a fictitious story about Michelangelo. The anecdote is fiction, the lesson it teaches is pure fact.

The artist was pushing a large stone down the street toward his sculpting studio. A neighbor sat lazily on his front porch watching the progression with great curiosity. "Hey, Michelangelo!" he cried out, "Why are you laboring so much over a rock?" Michelangelo replied with a wry smile, "There's an angel inside that wants to come out."

Great artists are always able to see what others cannot. Take Barnabas . . . . When the disciples heard that Saul, the man who breathed murderous threats against Christians, had become a believer and wanted to join them, they would have none of it. Like the neighbor on the porch, Paul's doubters could only see a rock, the hardened exterior of the former persecutor. But Barnabas saw what others missed.

And when [Saul] had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. Acts 9:26-30 ESV

Yes, Barnabas saw "the angel inside."

Some will read this and remark, "That's just pop psychology!" but I think it is good theology. Christians are realists. They know sin renders the human heart stiff, inflexible, and unyielding as a quarry slab. But they also know the God who has the power to replace the heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). They know God can take Saul the persecutor and make him Paul the preacher.

There will be stones in your streets today -- at work, in your classroom, among your family... Ask God to help you see with Michelangelo's eyes.