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Author George Bernard Shaw went to visit fellow Brit and sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein on one occasion.  As the artist showed the writer his studio, Shaw noticed a huge block of stone in the corner and asked Epstein what his intention was for the granite.

Statue in Parliament Square, London, by Jacob ...

Image via Wikipedia

“I don’t know yet.  I’m still making plans.”

“You mean you plan your work?” Shaw responded.  “Why I change my mind several times a day!”

“That’s all very well with a four-ounce manuscript,” replied the sculptor, “but not with a four-ton block.”

Before putting the chisel to the stone, Epstein wanted to be certain of his purpose and direction.  What did he want to achieve with the stone?  What singular direction would he go?

There is a similar principle that guides the follower of God.  What is the direction of his mind?  On what does he place his affections?  What (and whom) does he desire to please?

The prophet Isaiah offers this counsel to wayward Israel:

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the LORD forever,
For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.” (Is. 26:3-4)

The first of these verses is quoted often.  But two observations must be made about the prophet’s admonition.

First, the word “mind” is not the typical word for mind.  Rather, it is a word that comes from the artist’s world.  It refers to a work of a potter — it is something shaped and formed by his hands.  So in a figurative sense, it refers not just to one’s thoughts, but of the inclination and striving and desires of an individual.  It is the shape of his mind — his purposes and plans for the way he will live life.

Secondly, the word “steadfast” means “to support” or “to lean” — to place one’s weight on another.  But the word here is a passive form, which means that the individual’s mind is supported by another.  He is made firm by another.  The directions and purposes of his life are kept and shaped and molded by God Himself.

So to be “steadfast of mind” means more than just being careful with our thoughts (though it also includes that).  It means the motives, inclinations, and desires of our hearts shaped and formed by God Himself.

And the means by which one is shaped by God is by trusting in Him (v. 4) and relying on Him (10:20).  He trusts that God’s will is right and His precepts and commands are true, so he unflinchingly follows them.  And in the process of trusting and obeying God, he discovers that his purposes and directions for his life are shaped and molded and directed by God.

This is an Old Testament equivalent to the New Testament practice of sanctification — putting off sin and putting on righteousness by means of a renewed mind (Eph. 4:22-24; Rom. 12:1-2).

The question then is what is the direction of my heart this day?  Am I purposefully taking in God’s Word, following it with joyful obedience and allowing God to shape my mind by that Word so that I move in one direction that will prove to be an eternal satisfaction to me?

You and I are creating a “work of art” with our lives this day.  We are purposed by God for “good works” (Eph. 2:10).  What shape are our lives taking?  Are our lives more like a manuscript that might need to be torn up and discarded tomorrow, or are we begin carved into a godly shape that will honor Him?