In 1464 the city of Florence commissioned the creation of David’s statue that would rise 260 feet and adore the city cathedral. They selected sculptor Agostino di Duccio for this important task. Agostino went on to search for a perfect block of marble suitable for the project. Finally, he found one in Carrara. The quarry struggled to plan and prepare the shipment of the massive marble block. And when it finally arrived, Agostino realized that he had made a huge mistake. The marble was full of imperfections. It was not wide enough and had tiny holes and visible veins. He deemed the marble block useless and abandoned the project. For decades the gigantic marble block stayed untouched as every famous sculptor they invited saw the block as unfit for the project and useless. That is when a young 26 years old artist named Michelangelo agreed to take over the project and carved the most famous statue ever created out of a marble block that was seen as absolutely hopeless and worthless by everyone before him. But the most amazing part of this story is that when someone asked Michelangelo how he managed to do it, he explained and said, “I looked inside the marble and just took away the bits that weren’t David.”
At critical junctures of life, when facing the bitter consequences of a dysfunctional relationship or a deteriorating marriage, devastating divorce or a painful break-up, betrayal of a friend, injustice that we might have experienced and suffered, career or financial setback and disappointment, we might look into our lives and wonder – where is God in all of these? What is his plan for our lives and why did he not bless us with happiness, joy, and success like others?
Often, the problem is not that God does not bless us but how we perceive and define what a divine blessing is and our ability to recognize the many blessings of our lives. I think sometimes we expect God’s blessings to parachute into our lives from the heavens above, slowly and gently land in laps wrapped in shiny and beautiful gift wrappings ready for us to unwrap and enjoy them. We hope for divine miracles to pop into our lives magically at the right moment and place when we need them. And maybe it would be really nice if things worked this way, but they don’t. The reality is that divine blessings, like anything else truly good and noble in life, require active engagement, effort and struggle, personal transformation, and most importantly, active faith in God.
At any given moment, lives overflow with God’s blessings. We simply don’t see and recognize these blessings because, like the sculptors who examined the massive block of marble before Michelangelo, we focus on the imperfections and flaws of the opportunities extended to us by God and end up dismissing and diming them as worthless. We pray for a perfect soulmate but find that God leads us to individuals who are imperfect in so many ways and do not quite seem to fit our Disney-inspired understanding of a soulmate. We pray for a perfect marriage, kids and happiness and God gives us a spouse who challenges and questions our decisions, plans and hopes, children who disagree and disobey, fail to see and do what we think is proper and correct. We ask for a perfect job, but God leads us to a coworker with annoying habits who is not as committed and qualified as we are but gets the corner office and the promotion, to a boss who always seems to expect too much and does not appreciate our input and effort.
When we feel this way, it is time for prayer, reflection and maybe even some spiritual guidance and a call to Der Voski. It is time to step back and take a deep look into the giant marble block God placed in front us. What do you see? Don’t look into the cracks and holes, and don’t focus on its disproportionate size and shape. Look into it and notice the answer to your prayers and the distant and dim reflection of all your hopes and dreams. Arm yourself with the chisel of patience and hammer of faith and start carving the blessings and miracles prepared for you by God.