I have many fond memories of my childhood toys. I distinctly remember going to Kresge’s in the downtown of my hometown shortly after Christmas with two dollars given to me by my grandfather. I strolled the toy aisles until my attention fell upon a most unique toy. It was a child’s whittling kit. The kit was basically various plastic shapes placed within clay that had been shaped to look like pieces of wood. It also contained a few differently shaped dull plastic carving knives. It was great fun cutting away the clay to discover the sculpture buried within. The only drawback I saw to the toy was that once you’d cut away the clay, the toy was done being played with.

In later life I tried my hand at actual whittling and found that I lacked the appropriate aptitude and acumen. Yet, the idea that something unique can lay waiting to be discovered within something otherwise common and unremarkable, like a piece of wood, is both fascinating and indicative of spiritual truth.

Every day we awaken to life that waits to be shaped by the cutting edges of our choices. To live significantly, there is much we must say “no” to and carve it away. Then, as our intention takes form, we need the precision of values and principled action to refine our lives into shapes of beauty and usefulness. In real carving techniques, skill, imagination, and tools are all required to bring something unique from the mundane wooden blank. In life we need wisdom, vision, moral virtue, and spiritual truth to fashion a remarkable existence. God is the best resource for these things. And it is from God that we get the template for the greatest of all possible lives. God’s call, purpose, and mission is to help each person who believes in Jesus Christ become like Jesus Christ.

Living like Christ requires that we come to know Him deeply, love Him greatly, and follow Him diligently. But we are not left to do it by our meager skills alone. God works through the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of the church, the Holy Scriptures, prayer, and the circumstances of life to help us carve away the things that are not like Jesus. We cut off sins like selfishness, greed, lust, apathy, and the like so that what remains conforms to the holy, loving, servant nature of Jesus Christ.

Unlike my toy whittling kit, this process does not end in this life, so we are always capable of growth and improvement even as we enjoy lives of radical significance and beautiful impact. This is the life we were meant to live, and it can be brought forth from any of us by choosing God’s will and ways in every moment of every day. God is making masterpieces of any of us who will surrender to Him. What is your life shaping up to be?

Contact Pastor Lamb at icumc@yahoo.com.