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Made Holy

July 4, 2021

“The Deposition” a/k/a “The Florence Pieta” by Michelangelo (1547-1555), Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Author George M. Groutas, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/22083482@N03/48199230596 (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

“Many believe – and I believe – that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put my hope in Him.”

– Michelangelo

The great Renaissance artist, Michelangelo, sculpted “The Deposition” or “Florence Pieta” late in life.  We see Christ lowered by Nicodemus from the cross into the arms of His waiting mother. The sculpture is in sharp contrast with the more well-known “Pieta” at St. Peter’s Basilica whose perfection first established Michelangelo’s reputation.

Dissatisfied with “The Deposition”, Michelangelo attempted to destroy it after some eight years of effort. A novice sculptor was later hired to restore the piece.  It is said the face of Nicodemus is Michelangelo’s own.

As Christians, we can sometimes feel battered. One struggle follows another. We are slandered and misunderstood; begin to accumulate scars.

The further along we go in life, the greater the challenges and the less clear their outcome. Weren’t we promised a mountaintop? Don’t we deserve a rest?

We may in our 20s find true love; in our 30s begin a family, and focus on turning our dreams into a reality. We may in our 40s feel we have attained the heights, have established ourselves in a career.

But disappointments gradually pile up. Discontent creeps in. Outright tragedies may be thrust upon us: major illness, the loss of a child or death of a spouse, war, natural disaster.

We discover we are no longer the person we were at 20, or 30, or 40. What was so carefully built up, is torn down – demolished, in fact. Our best efforts prove meaningless.

Like it or not, this is sanctification, our walk with Christ, the process by which God makes us holy. On the road to Calvary, we are stripped of our ego and achievements – of all we love, perhaps – so that God may rebuild us, reordering our priorities and focusing our attention on Him. This might sound threatening, if God were not, Himself, holy and good.

It is not fashionable these days to discuss sanctification. Instead, televangelists promise financial bounty, and worldly success in exchange for financial contributions.  Nowhere is this supported in the Bible.

The American composer and evangelist, Philip Bliss in 1876 wrote the beloved hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul” about sanctification. The song was inspired by Psalm 146.

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”

May God enable us to say the same.

Originally posted 3/29/15

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

22 Comments
  1. Great words of Michelangelo, great Renaissance artist. Never giving up, no matter how old you are, is so important, not only for yourself, but also for the benefit of others. Thank you for sharing, Anna,I am sure that you will always continue to work for the benefit of others. I wish you the very best and think of you with kindness, Marie

  2. What a deeply beautiful and important post! Thank you Anna. I needed this.

  3. Anna, you always seem to stir something in my spirit, a sentence, a thought… I’m sure others feel the same.

    E.g. Sanctification via pain, but remembering that God is always GOOD. A College buddy of mine, retired in California, recently wrote ‘Every human tear forms first in the eye of God.’

    E.g. the hymn, ‘It is well’ is so beloved in my country, in our house church, especially by our isiXhosa speaking people in the group. It always comforts and bolsters faith under trial, somehow.

  4. Allan Halton permalink

    I learned to handle “disappointments” better once I came to accept that God’s goal and mine were (I blush to say) sometimes two different things. All too often I have wanted peace and prosperity, and would be content to live happily ever with that; His goal is to conform me to the image of His Son, and He works all things accordingly.

    And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom 8:28k29). 

  5. Towards the end there is not much left of us. As it should be. But it’s not comfortable.

  6. The story behind the hymn is heart-rending, but profound. Phillip Bliss was the score composer, Horatio G. Spafford, the lyricist.

    Spafford had already lost a son to disease and most of his fortune in the Great Fire of Chicago, His wife and daughters sailed on a ship to England and he was to join them later. After news of the ship’s wreck reached America, he received a telegram from his wife saying, “Saved alone. What shall I do?”

    Sailing to England immediately, as he passed the site of the previous shipwreck he thought about his daughters, and words of comfort and hope filled his heart and mind: “It is well with my soul.”

  7. Amen. The Lord bless you, Anna.

  8. Sanctification is one of those words we like to attribute to others, not ourselves. Either that, or we assign it to yesteryear. Either way, we shun the “potters wheel” whenever possible.

    Without this process of stripping away of “self” however, we will never become the man or woman of God that He compels us to be. As you say Anna, it’s all about reordering our priorities to align with His, uncomfortable as that may be.

  9. My goodness, this post hit all kinds of emotions in me, all good ones too. Actually you affirmed some of recent thoughts that are backed up by scripture. The process of sanctification is exactly as you wrote, well said, and as for me, well received. At 74 God still has me in that process and yes, it still hurts at my age. But I get through it quicker then I use too. My husband always says, the mark of maturity is how long it takes us to get back upon the Calvary Road we journey on when sin trips us up and we stumbled into the ditch on each side of the road. I have found his take on it to be true and thankful for the grace of His light that shines so bright we can see our way back in fellowship with Him. I love this post. A question. You have a post titled Battery Acid that I would like to use some of it in a book I am writing. It’s about forgiveness which is the core of my book, titled, Truth Dripping Red. Though the ages, truth has caused blood to flow and it still does today. Thankful for the blood Jesus that covers all sin when we put our faith in it. Blessings.

    • Wise observations, Betty. I would be honored if you used my post in your book. Please, however, attribute any quotes from the post to me. I would like to preserve the copyright. God bless you.

      • Yes, I would attribute your quotes to you. Is there something I need to sign to use it? I have copied in my Word to go through and see what I want to use. It speaks directly to an area of my story that has actually put a stop to me writing it. Which is why I appreciate what you wrote for I can see why I got stopped, it’s the hard part of the story for me. I just need to get on with it, i am 74 and heaven is certainly sounding sweeter. Thank you.

      • You don’t need to sign anything on my account. I suggest for your own reference you print these comments to reflect my assent. I wish you much success with the book!

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