In a remote village in Thailand stood a 10-foot golden Buddha statue . . . the largest in the world. In the late 18th century, during the Burmese invasion of Thailand, the village monks covered the figure in mud fearing the invaders would steal the statue. Unfortunately, the monks died in the invasion, and the statue sat covered in mud for three centuries.
Fast forward to 1955 . . . government officials are preparing to move this massive 10-foot clay Buddha. During the process, a crack formed on the plaster exterior. You can imagine the surprise when officials discovered a glimpse of gold shining through. As they continued to remove the layers of mud, they uncovered a relic valued at over $240 million. Today, the restored Golden Buddha serves as one of the most significant tourist attractions in Thailand.
After hearing this story, it stuck in my head for a few days, and as I continued to reflect on it, a few parallels to our spiritual life began to form . . .
The detailed cover-up – Imagine the time and attention the monks put into molding the clay to ensure that the cover-up looked real. Why? If anything looked off, it might draw the attention of the invaders and lead them to discover what was hidden underneath. In our lives, we craft detailed cover-ups and put on wear masks to keep our true selves and our struggles, fears, and doubts hidden from those around us.
We are never too far gone – It took almost two hundred years and a moving accident for the statue to be uncovered. The Message translation of 2 Peter 3:9 reads, “God isn’t late . . . He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” In the story of the prodigal son, “even when he was still a long way off,” his father saw him and ran to him. It’s never too late for us to come running home. Our Father will always be there to uncover our hard exterior and remind us how much he loves us.
Under the surface – Even after years of being covered in mud, the statue never lost the beauty of the masterpiece underneath. Just as we are always “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Scripture doesn’t say, “at one time, long ago, before you messed it all up, you were fearfully and wonderfully made.”
When I reflect on my life story, I clearly see seasons where I added layers of mud to avoid discovery. Thankfully, I can also clearly see the moments when God chipped away at the clay to reveal what was hidden under the mess.
And now as a mentor, when I tell my story to a group of guys . . . revealing the layers of mud I applied and the ways God cracked through them, I’m invited these guys to pick up a chisel, and in a safe place, with the help of their Creator and the other men in the group, begin to chip away at the mud they’ve applied over the years. Much like the Golden Buddha statue today . . . that process is worth its weight in gold.
Scripture: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)