For my mother’s birthday I purchased the latest fad - they were everywhere; splashed on the front pages of catalogues, piled precariously high in store windows, and disappearing rapidly from the department store shelves.
I knew that my creative mother, who loves to paint and draw, would be delighted as she opened up the pages of her new adult colouring book and gazed upon the myriad of intricately woven lines. I could see her eyes dancing as she began to imagine the explosions of colour that she would apply to the flat, lifeless, black and white markings. With each stroke of her colour-filled tools, creation would be born, life breathed, as she coloured the spaces between the illustrator’s designs.
It made me excited to see what she would create. As I pondered the gift, I saw a similarity between this gift and life.
Our lives are like this beautiful book.
Our lives are intricate patterns, full of potential, that have been created by God – The Great Illustrator. Father God, in all His sovereignty and power, could easily fill in the colours for us, presented to us at salvation, a delightful, fully illustrated book with our every space already complete.
But He doesn’t.
Often we wish He would, at times we beg Him too. But He doesn’t.
In His wisdom and love, He knows that we will receive exceeding joy by creating alongside Him instead of simply viewing a completed version that we contributed nothing too. His desire is that we are infinitely and intricately involved in all His plans.
For this gift to fulfil its purpose, mum had to apply the pencil to the page. She had to take action. If she had received the gift, and placed it on the bookshelf, waiting for someone else to colour the spaces, it would have lost its intention.
Someone else may have picked it up, they may have coloured in the spaces, but it would not be the same, it was her gift designed for her unique touch.
When God gives us a gift, He endows us with something precious; that word, vision, opportunity, is designed for just one, just us, so that we can start to colour the space. Graham Cooke says, “It is vital that we speak into the space between the actual and potential”. With God that is His way. We start with small strokes, but we must fill the space, we must take hold of the potential that waits, speak into it, visualise it, until stroke-by-stroke, word-by-word, it will arise. Suddenly, we realise we have created a masterpiece in partnership with The Great Artist.
By understanding the purpose of the gift and the heart of the giver, Mum began to transform her book. Item after item, page after page, beauty poured forth.
Along the journey, she attracted many. I contributed, my daughter contributed. We all added our hearts to hers, in unity, to transform the lifeless pages. We came together, we worked together, her purpose inspired us... and it brought us all joy.
When we follow God’s lead, it may seem like a lonely walk to begin. Someone has to step out first; someone has to pick up the pencil and start. Yet, we were designed for unity, relationship, and community. We may begin alone but we never finish that way. As we follow the Father’s purpose for our life, He knits other hearts with ours, and together, we transform the world around us with His wonder and beauty.
So this year when He gives you a gift, think about how important it is to pick up that pencil and remember to colour your space with all of your heart.