He knew who he was—he was “the sculptor.” Despite briefly training as a painter in his teens, he had shifted to sculpting and loved it. Soon enough, his statues were lauded for their beauty and power.
With this renown, the great man of the day invited him to discuss making the most amazing piece of sculpture ever devised—more than 40 life-sized figures in a huge, freestanding structure of pillars, arches and niches. It would literally take a lifetime to complete. It was beyond dreaming.
The great man shifted funds to other priorities yet insisted the sculptor paint the vault of a prestigious chapel instead.
The sculptor was insulted; ceilings were traditionally painted by assistants and second-rate artists. He was horrified that the great man commanded that it be painted in the most difficult method ever created—a method he had (most likely) never even tried. He was intimidated by a vault that measured 12,000 square feet.
When the official contract was drawn up, he insisted that the payments be made to “the sculptor.” When writing letters during this period, he signed his name followed by the title “sculptor.”
Yet he was no longer a sculptor, he was a painter. Despite his unbending insistence, someone had rerouted his life.
And so, Michelangelo reluctantly painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, history’s single greatest work of art. He could not refuse Pope Julius II despite his temperamental insistence on where his real talents lay.
Sometimes, we’re no different than Michelangelo.
God will call us into action, toward change, into sacrifice, and we will tell Him that’s not who we are. We will tell Him we have little experience in that area. We will tell Him what we do best. We will tell Him our dreams. We will tell Him our identity. We will forget that He is God, and that we were “bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings” (1 Corinthians 7:23, TNIV). We will forget that we do not get to choose our path if we serve Him. It is “not my will but Thine.”
The good news is we can see these unplanned reroutings for what they are—His will—so that they can become worship to our Savior. Instead of fighting to prove our individuality (i.e. doing life “our way”), we can live in submission to Him. God basks in the adoration of His people, but too often we think that requires fancy words or vertical music or small groups instead of daily generous actions offered to Him in a spirit of humility. Others will notice because transparency is not weakness, but a signal indicator of worship.
So Michelangelo didn’t want to be a painter. Paul didn’t want to be a Christian. Moses didn’t want to be a leader. Joseph didn’t want to be sold into slavery. Yet God had a divine plan for each that took them deeper into His will despite their protestations. It’s no different for us. Despite the discomfort, the changes He desires will only benefit us—and the kingdom of God—when our daily actions become a living worship unto Him.