Monday, May 23, 2016

Coloring Outside The Lines

My daughter Beth and her family gave me a great Christian, for-big-kids, coloring book for my birthday and I have been spending time off and on adding color to a few pages with my pencils.  I love news there.  I love writing on paper (or now keyboarding on the white pages of documents online).  I used to get excited when it was time to purchase notebooks for the school year~ all that crisp clean paper!  I did learn this week that I don't like coloring out of the lines.  I'm 68 years old and I get annoyed when I accidentally color outside the lines. I want the pencils to be sharp and the picture to look perfect~okay, I said it!  Perfect.

Now, I am very aware, that in regards to what we believe about healing and Holy Spirit, we have colored outside the lines of our Lutheran heritage.  Of many denominational "lines".  And I am loving our life in that regard. But am I still struggling with staying inside the lines?  Hmmmm

This aha moment with the coloring book took me way back to when I was an Interpreter for the Deaf in a special needs preschool in MN.  I had two little guys I worked with who were both named Charlie and both were profoundly deaf and needed hearing aids and an interpreter.  I was blessed to spend one school year with them..........they taught me a lot!  Ha....

Recently I heard someone say that by age 8-10 most kids have lost a large percentage of their creativity while going to school.  No coloring outside the lines, please.  And can you blame teachers when they have such large classrooms or standards to follow. Unlike some of my family, I am not a teacher, but I remember well the day one of my Charlies wanted to color the bird in the picture he was given a bright yellow.  The teacher was very upset because I let him color a bluebird yellow.  It just was not okay. He needed to know it was blue because it was a bluebird.  I did not know her argument behind it, and she could have been justified in her persistence to get it into his head, but it seemed over the top for me, and certainly stifled his creativity.  I can still see his face. He knew it was a blue bird. He was not being defiant, he just wanted it to be the color of sunshine.

How often do we stifle creativity in the church body?  During worship?  How often do we hear, "We have always done it THIS way."  How often do we look at someone a little different in their thinking, in their way of worshiping Jesus and we judge that.  How many of us don't want the judgement of others so we stop coloring outside the lines?  Yeah.....

When we were in Arizona we went to a large Methodist church in Gold Canyon.  We were worshiping in the contemporary service and I noticed the music leaders were raising their hands at were we.  But when I turned to the side and saw a few others raising their hands while singing to our Lord, I noticed I felt relief that I could be who I am and would not stand out.  Some stood to sing. Some sat.  Some raised their hands.  Some did not.  Some swayed with the music. Some did not. The sweet 80 plus woman sitting next to Joel often said, "Praise the Lord" and when we left she leaned over and gave me a big kiss on the cheek, saying, "I am sooooo glad you came. I hope we will see you again!"  And it was all A-okay.

In school we are taught to stay in the lines and learn all that is presented to us, but when we come before God to worship we don't all have to color in the lines of someone else's making. We don't all have to be alike, worship alike, dress alike, pray alike.  How boring would that be.

Don't we all see things differently?  Maybe we see things according to the gifts God has placed inside of us.  Sometimes those gifts are never revealed or used because we are kept within the lines of someone else's making. Gifts kept hidden because of judgement or our own insecurity.

Today I listened online to a young boy around 8 years old get up in front of a large congregation to share his story.  While singing God told him he needed to buy 20 Bibles and give them to the homeless. He decided that was too many to buy so he aimed for 15.  He did listen to God's voice, encouraged by his mom and dad, and he decided to have a race and people could donate money for the Bibles from the kids who were running.  He did so, and they raised over $1,000.  He was able to take not 15 Bibles, but 87 Bibles down to the homeless shelter and they were able to share the Gospel with several there.  A few came to know Jesus and a few were healed BECAUSE an 8 year old boy heard God speak to him and was allowed to color outside the lines and do what God asked of him.

Speaking for ourselves, Joel and I have been challenged to step outside of our comfort zones, not once but many times and it is not always easy.  God just keeps revealing more, asking more, showing up more in ways that sometimes color outside the lines.  For His purpose.  It is all for His purpose and His glory.   He loves all His creation so much He wants them all to know Jesus and He desires a close relationship with His children. Sometimes that includes coloring outside the lines.  Always it means using the gifts God has given you to worship Him, to serve Him, and to love others.  Lets not get in the way of others doing so by judging or limiting them from coloring outside the lines.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post. I so agree.