Whoever hammers a lump of iron, first decides what he is going to make of it, a scythe, a sword, or an axe. Even so, we ought to make up our minds what kind of virtue we want to forge, or we labor in vain.
—– Anthony of the Desert
In her play, “The Zeal of Thy House,” Dorothy Sayers imagines a stonemason working on an intricate carving for the chancel of Canterbury Cathedral. He then drops his carving tool and ruins the stone. This devastates him because the valuable and custom-cut stone is ruined. The designer, however, takes the tool out of the stonemason’s hand and begins restoration. He brings forth out of the spoiled stone a new and different figure which has its own part to play in the Cathedral and then permits the blundering mason to complete it in all its glory. “So works with us,” concludes Dorothy Sayers, “the cunning craftsman, God.”
As I tell this story, I cannot shake the phrase from my mind: “The cunning craftsman, God.” In this situation, the word cunning does not mean some kind of craftiness or deceit. The word is taken in its purer sense indicating skill, wisdom, and ability. The phrase then really means that the Master artist God can take our awkward efforts and make something useful out of them. He takes our mismanaged lives, our failed efforts, our missed marks, our shameful deeds, our alien attitudes, our sinful lives and with His divine resourcefulness, He saves the day. He creates something new, worthy and wonderful that still has usefulness and beauty in the divine plan of things. We desperately need this type of assurance.
I joy in the fact that I can dwell in that state of assurance. God has promised to be with us always even in the lowest valley of our lives. he is always eager and ready to reshape and rebuild us.
Lord, I open myself to you and ask you to reshape and restore me in the way that you intended when you created me. May my life be shaped, with fire if necessary, to resemble your beauty and majesty. This is my prayer.