When it came to carving Mount Rushmore, the stakes were high. Each face is 60 feet tall, and carved into granite. It took thousands of years for that granite to form, and granite is permanent. If you mess up, you can’t mush it up and start again. Once you chip it off the block, it’s gone. Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, knew that once he blew away the furrow of Washington’s brow there would be no undoing it. This meant he couldn’t just walk up to Mount Rushmore and start hacking away. Every blast and chisel strike had to be carefully planned and calculated.
But how did he plan such a massive monument? How could he know that a project this big would be successful in the end?
Before chisels struck rock, Borglum sculpted Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt’s likenesses out of pliable, workable plaster—a material he could shape freely until he got it right. He had to know how light and shadow would interact on their faces and, how the figures would balance as a whole. He had to give his workers and financial backers a picture of the final product before carving it permanently into granite. The success of the whole project hinged on a scale model.
God is a sculptor too (Isaiah 64:8). He is working on some monumental projects that make Mount Rushmore look like a preschooler’s Play-Doh project. But He educates and prepares us in much the same way that Gutzon Borglum prepared for his magnum opus. God gives us experiences that are like scale models of His grand projects.
For example, the seven annual festivals picture God’s great plan of salvation for all mankind. Observing these days teaches us about every step in the plan. They are a comparatively tiny scale model. The fulfillment, however, will herald the most dramatic and epic events in history. God gives us the little scale model reminder every year because He wants us to understand His huge project.
God gives us other scale models too. The family, as God designed it, is a little scale model of the Family of God. Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and children all point to roles in the God Family. God gave humans family, so we could get a picture of His eternal family plan.
Building God’s character within you is His biggest project. When He is finished sculpting you in your temporary physical existence, He hopes to look at your character and say, “Yes! That’s awesome! Now I’m going to take you and make you permanently spirit.” We must yield to God’s sculpting, because what is molded now has eternal implications. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) Compared to eternal glory, our lives are just tiny scale models. God uses tests and trials to shape and mold our character, and the results will be permanent! We have to be tried and endure suffering now—that is God’s sculpting at work. He won’t risk making any inferior character permanent.
God uses more than tests and trials; He desires every experience to shape our character. Every work assignment, conversation, hobby, blessing—everything we do is a chance for God to sculpt His character in us. “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8). We must submit to God’s will in everything we do—and let Him lead us. God can only mold us through our experiences if we yield to His will. Our actions might seem insignificant, but God views every one as a sculpting opportunity.
The rinky-dink scale model at the base of Mount Rushmore is not worthy to be compared to the glory of the actual Mount Rushmore. But the glory of Mount Rushmore would never have been possible without that rinky-dink scale model.
God is working on some monumental projects, and He is giving us a vision of them through scale models today. We must learn from them and use them to grasp the magnitude of His purpose. We must be sculpted and molded today so God can carve our character into something much more permanent than granite.