What is dedicated to God is what will last.
Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God.
~Number four of the seventy resolutions of Jonathan Edwards
The trouble is that relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.
~ C. S. Lewis
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. — Romans 12:1 AMP, classic edition
You know the name Michelangelo, but have you heard of Colalucci? Michelangelo created some of the world’s greatest and most familiar works of art, including the ceiling and altar wall of the Sistine Chapel. Gianluigi Colalucci was the chief restorer of the great artist’s work in what may be one of the most significant art restoration projects in history.
A look at the work of both the painter and the restorer tells us something about the patience it takes to restore. The southern and northern walls of the Sistine Chapel were painted from 1481 to 1483, the ceiling from 1508 to 1512, the altar wall from 1536 to 1541, and the eastern wall in 1572 and 1574. The total time to paint was twelve years. The restoration project, begun by Colalucci in June 1980, was unveiled by Pope John Paul II on April 8, 1994. That adds up to four- teen years. The restoration took longer than the original painting!
This begs the question, Why restore it at all? If it takes so long to restore something, why not just throw it away and start over? The answer in the case of the Sistine Chapel is obvious: it was restored because it is a priceless work of art. You are the same — a work of creation of immeasurable value to God! The restoration of a relationship, career, business, or dream is priceless to God. To throw it away would be as foolish as rolling white paint over the images of God and Adam in the Sistine Chapel because it would be quicker and easier to start fresh.
Never forget that in whatever you are putting back together, the most significant restoration is what God is doing in you.
Through every circumstance, He is working to bring into your life more of the character of Christ — the love, grace, hope, and joy of Jesus.
As Gianluigi Colalucci reflects on his experiences as chief restorer, he describes carefully how he undertook the work of restoring the face of Adam:
I was able to proceed with the solvent mixture, which was gelatinous and adhered to the fresco even in the middle of the ceiling. I applied it with a brush, left it to do its work for three minutes, stopwatch in hand, and then began to remove it with the small sponge soaked in water… The ugly mass of substances slowly disappeared beneath my hands to reveal a pattern of brushstrokes of pure colour closely interwoven so as to create or indeed sculpt the shape of the face, now able to breathe again… I paused in enchantment before this piece of painting, which had regained its highly delicate colouring… I stepped down from the low wooden dais and sat down to look up in delight at that spectacle, thinking that in spite of everything, this was the finest profession in the world.1
Restoring the face of Adam is a compelling picture of what God wants to do in each of us. The Bible often presents Adam as the representative of the entire human race, because his sin brought the need for restoration to all of us. That, of course, is not the end of the story. In the love and sacrifice of Jesus, we are all offered restoration of a relationship with God. Romans 5:18 (NLT) puts it this way:
Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.
Through the love of Christ, God is restoring the work of art that is you. He is causing you to look more and more like Jesus every day. It is often slow work, but He is patient. Look carefully, and you can picture Him gently wiping away the dirt and grime of the past, being careful not to destroy the underlying beauty He created in you. The promised completion of this project is almost beyond our imagination:
Just as each of us now has a body like Adam’s, so we shall some day have a body like Christ’s. — 1 Corinthians 15:49 LB
God will bring out the full color of the masterpiece He has created you to be — and all will see that this beauty is because of Christ. This is the glory of God.
The truth of what God is doing in each of us leads directly to our need to dedicate what we are doing to God. To dedicate is to decide that something will be used for the sake of God’s glory. When we recognize that God is working toward this glorious restoration in each of us, it becomes much easier to dedicate every circumstance of life to Him.
For whatever is built or rebuilt to stay strong, it must be dedicated to God.
To have a strong family, you must dedicate it to God. To have a strong business or church or life, you must dedicate it to God. Without dedication, you will see what you have built begin to decay; with dedication, you will see it continue to stay strong.
Dedication is a vital step for those who want to see what they’ve rebuilt remain. Far too many people trust God for the strength to restore a relationship or career, only to take it back to themselves once the hard work of rebuilding is done. In our desperation to avoid failure, we trust God, but once the crisis passes, we begin to trust ourselves again.
The people of Israel went through this pattern repeatedly. They would trust God; things would improve; they would take it back to themselves; things would fall apart; they had to trust God again— the same pattern over and over again.
The key to not seeing that pattern happen is found in dedicating it all to God. Nehemiah again is our example. He knew the wall wouldn’t be truly completed until it had been dedicated. The dedication was not some nice little celebration ceremony at the end of the project; it was an all-important part of the rebuilding. Dedication recognized who the wall belonged to and Who would get the credit for its usefulness.
Unless dedication is a part of your everyday life, you’re going to feel like you’re living only a half-life, because the purpose of life grows out of dedication. It’s out of your dedication of whatever God has put into your hands that you recognize why it’s there and what it can be used for.
- Gianluigi Colalucci, Michelangelo and I: Facts, People, Surprises, and Discoveries in the Restoration of the Sistine Chapel (Milan, Italy: 24 Ore Cultura, 2016), 132-33.
Excerpted with permission from Putting It Together Again When It’s All Fallen Apart by Tom Holladay, copyright Tom Holladay.
* * *
God is in the restoration business. He’s at work on you, at work in your life, actively refurbishing and renewing what has been covered in muck over the years. Today, let’s dedicate His work of restoration to His glory! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear your dedication! ~ Devotionals Daily