Elementary school teachers fill big pots of paint and place them under easels. Then they cover the students in smocks, the floor in plastic, and let the fun begin. Their children delight to paint in broad strokes of color, without concern of judgment, until they are done.
In the same way God fills our hearts with pots of love – and gives us lives of canvas we’re to paint upon. It should be fun – we can explore and experiment in color and form as we create visions and stories about the wondrous glory of God’s grace transforming us. We even get to color in the lives of those we meet and love along the way. It should all be golden, right? But for some reason it almost always all turns brown.
The colors come to us bright and clear. Pure. But somehow we churn them into muck. It’s a sin. It comes from mixing so much of ourselves in. We are self-diluting – restraint, embarrassment, fear, withholding out of anger all wash the colors out and leave us – blah.
And the canvas rolls along. Either we color now – or the record of our lives is left blank.
I seek inspiration.
Those children who plunge in and are swept away by the passion of expressing love in bold colors, bring liberty to those who watch. I watched Tyler Renninger and Kierstie Shellman get married Saturday, 10 days ago – and I got splatted and drenched bystanding that event. It’s so personal really – a very private thing – what we paint – the way we love one another. But they had no trouble sharing it with all of us. It was a beautiful thing.
To be honest, to share openly our hearts, to let people watch us experiencing joys and sorrows – the way Tyler and Kierstie did – is a freedom I don’t have. But without that liberty I can’t fill my life with art. It takes the courage of a warrior to be an artist. And the greatest, most demanding art form is painting in people’s lives with the love of God.
To paint with brilliant, illuminating strokes, the way Jesus taught, is something we give up trying for. We content ourselves with safer, more reasonable goals. But I was reminded of reaching for higher things, that Saturday, as I witnessed a family up to their elbows in paint, splashing great colors of love on each other’s canvasses, unafraid of who thought it was sloppy or not (it was not). It was a beautiful, inspiring thing. They chose love not fear, and they left me wanting to do the same.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
1 John 4:18