John 1:42 (NIV)
And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
I read a story about a man who had a huge boulder in his front yard. He grew weary of this big, unattractive stone in the center of his lawn, so he decided to take advantage of it and turn it into an object of art. He went to work on it with hammer and chisel, and chipped away at the huge boulder until it became a beautiful stone elephant. When he finished, it was gorgeous, breath-taking.
A neighbor asked, "How did you ever carve such a marvelous likeness of an elephant?"
The man answered, "I just chipped away everything that didn't look like an elephant!"
You may have heard a version of this story that uses the name of Michelangelo as the man who is doing the sculpting (sometimes the story gives his explanation of how the statue of David was created, other times the statue of Moses).
But the story also illustrates how God creates men in His likeness. He starts with nothing much more than a boulder, but like a great artist, he sees the potential for what lies within and chips away until we are shaped in His image.
Look at how Jesus dealt with men like Peter. Who would have looked at Peter -- the loud mouth who was always saying things he would later regret -- and seen the disciple he would become? Who would have looked at James and John -- nicknamed "Sons of Thunder" because of their temper -- and considered them to be ideal candidates? But Jesus had a way of looking into the hearts of men and women, seeing not only what they were, but what they had the potential to become. Then he set about the task of "chipping away" to uncover the beauty that lay beneath the surface.
Wouldn't it be great it we could learn to look at those around us the same way -- to see not only what they are, but to see what they can become? If we would only do that, perhaps instead of seeing people as "worthless boulders", we would set about the task of chipping away to reveal their full potential.
Dear Lord, open our eyes so that we may see the potential in those around us instead of the hunk of rock. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.