The Masterpiece Inside


Nestled among other trinkets from my travels, a unique ship illustrates God’s involvement in our lives.

Having traveled to Russia eight times, I’ve become familiar with many types of crafts and handmade souvenirs found in the outdoor markets. Far exceeding the others, the ship in a bottle fascinates me.

There’s nothing special about the bottle itself; the intrigue lies in the meticulous detail seen through the glass.

Like me, many of the uninformed wonder, “How do they get the ship into the bottle through the narrow neck?” The answer—they don’t. They build it from the inside!

If you happen to visit the market at the right time, you can watch the artisan assembling his work of art.
Four things are necessary:
• a clear bottle
• a skilled craftsman
• a long stick-like tool, and
• a model to work from.

The craftsman takes delight in his project, uses his tool with precision, and carefully constructs the ship using miniature pieces. He works toward an exact replica of the model.

These ships can’t be mass-produced; they have to be constructed one at a time.

I see an analogy to our sanctification, the process by which God makes us like His Son.
• we are the glass bottle
• the craftsman is the Holy Spirit
• his tool is the Word of God, and
• the model is Jesus

We know that the Holy Spirit’s tool is the Word of God because Jesus had prayed to His Father, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth” John 17:17. God’s intends to use His Word to make us like His Son.

The Holy Spirit builds from the inside, slowly and methodically, with God’s Word as His tool. The perfect model He wants to replicate in us is Jesus, the magnificent One.

As the Holy Spirit and God’s Word work together, others will see the emerging masterpiece—Jesus in our lives—and wonder how He got inside.

Do we sometimes forget the Bible’s role in our sanctification and think we can get there on our own?

8 comments to The Masterpiece Inside

  • Richie Malone

    Magnificent analogy! Thank you for referencing that particular verse, John 17:17, which makes it very clear that his Word is the tool. I can easily wander off away from The Tool by being content with reading books about the Bible, letting pastors fill me with what they know, listening to friends’ encounters with the Living God. Thank you for reminding me that his word is for me and I discover him by knowing it.

    • Richie, you are so right. We quickly gravitate to other sources ABOUT the Bible, and sometimes neglect the true source of everything we need for life and godliness.

  • Natalie

    The ship in the bottle is one of my favorite Russian treasures as well. It’s also comforting to think that no matter what is going on outside the bottle, the work inside remains. Circumstances can’t thwart God’s plans in me.

  • Chérie

    Beautiful illustration. Love that. It’s so true. Wow?
    I was reviewing John 17 one day, and as I was saying the verses in my own way, it suddenly dawned on me that Jesus would have been looking up to heaven, His arms lifted up perhaps, and He would have been praying in earnest—loud enough for them all to hear Him well— as He knew what He was about to face. After I thought about that, I read back the entire chapter imagining how His voice must have sounded, even though it was in a different language. When I did this, verse 17 was the one that I imagined His voice would have escalated… SANCTIFY THEM BY THE TRUTH! YOUR WORD IS TRUTH!
    So, I’ve never seen it in real life, only in videos, but the process described in todays post is a real picture of our sanctification as the artisan has to FLATTEN the sails before inserting them in the neck of the bottle, so they will fit, and then when he pulls on the strings attached, the sails stand straight up inside that bottle and because they are IN THE BOTTLE, those plain old little tiny square sails become majestic. Fantastic illustration Janet!

  • Chérie

    Your comment really hit me. Stuff outside this bottle of mine gets chaotic at times. I will remember this illustration daily and with gratefulness. Thank you so much.

  • Susan Turner

    LOVE this!!! I am going to have to get a ship in a bottle too : )