I’ve heard some old tale of Michelangelo looking at a huge marble slab and saying, “Moses is in there, he just has to be let out.”
When you look at Petra, you get the very same feeling. The mountain was standing there in the southern Jordanian wilderness, three impressive castles just needed to be let out.
I’ve been to the Great Wall of China where you see block upon block traipsing across the rugged terrain. I’ve been to the Great Pyramids of Cairo where you see stone upon stone carefully placed atop of each other reaching higher and higher into the sky. Both are impressive, but there is just something about Petra.
When they began building these facades of stone, they had to have the whole picture laid out. As they cut in, the shape of towers, windows, decoration, depth, movement and regal beauty had to be left. Rock and stone had to be removed, leaving the exterior intact. Cut too deep, chisel too hard and you can never fix the mistake.
It’s not like taking a cut stone and placing it on atop of another to build up or across. You cut in so that the outer extremities are preserved as you go deeper and deeper into the interior.
There are so many spiritual applications to this that my imagination goes wild. God alone, the magnificent artist and former of our innermost parts, knows in the beginning the big picture. He knows from the start all that our lives will entail. Then in His infinite wisdom and timing, He begins cutting from the outside in. The beautiful fortress is under the vaulted stone, but its going to take a hammer and chisel to unearth it.
Toil. Suffering. Precision. Craftsmenship. Pleasure. Anger. Disappointment. Joy. All mixed into the Creator’s formation of us – the created. A leader is in there, he just must be let out. A servant is in there, he just must be let out. A teacher, a father, a husband, all of them are in there, they just must be let out. Chip. Chip. Chip.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1.6) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2.10)