Monday, April 22, 2013

The Paint Box

"For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life."
1 Thessalonians 4:7, NIV
I tore into the plain, brown paper, wrapping and squealed with delight as my eyes fell on a shiny tin box filled with fresh watercolor paints just begging to be placed into the hands of a young artist. Quickly, I found some paper and lost myself in my creation. It is sad that my budding artist career came years before the day of refrigerator magnets. However, my masterpieces always found a place of honor in our home.

As daughters of a professional artist, my sister and I loved nothing more than to spend the day at our father's studio, where there was always an abundant supply of paper, pencils, paints and paternal praiseeverything a young Rembrandt might need. It was only natural for me to follow in my father's footsteps.

I well remember one particular day in fourth-grade art class. Our assignment: to copy a picture of a bird on a flowered tree limb. I intently set about my work, only this time I was unable to measure up to the high standards I had evidently laid out for myself. As a result I resorted to plagiarism. I discreetly laid my paper over the pattern and traced the image with meticulous strokes. Later, as my teacher held up each work of art before the class, he politely asked me if I had traced mine. Of course I answered, "No," and in my naivety, I believed I had fooled him.

Today there are instances when I am still unwilling to put in the effort required to acheive the optimal result, not only in my life's artistic expression, but its spiritual expression as well. My impatience produces halfhearted efforts and a sprint to a premature finish. Developing artistic skill takes a lifetime of dedicated study and hard work. The same is true when it comes to maturing in Christ and living out his purpose. Our Heavenly Father's standards for living a pure and holy life are high, but he has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Our approach must be intentional. Fulfilling God's vision for our lives requires prayerful time in his presence, intensive study and obedience to his word, and an earnest resolve to follow the Holy Spirit's lead. There are no shortcuts, no patterns to tracesimply his footsteps to follow.

I still have my childhood paintbox. I find it intriguing that the wells once filled with fresh, vibrant, and varied colors now all contain the same dull shade of dirty brown. The result, I am sure, of a young child artist in such a hurry to paint her masterpiece that she didn't take the time to rinse out her brush.

More than a generation later, I must ask myself, "Am I still impatiently tracing an image other than my own, or am I willing to follow the unique pattern my Father has marked out for me?"


  1. What a convicting post, Starr. This journey is indeed a lifetime and I'm so prone to rush. I hear the Spirit's urging through your words. Going to save this one to chew on over the next weeks and months. Thank you.


    1. Thank you, DiAne! I am grateful the message spoke to your heart. May we all embrace God's timing and purpose for our lives. Thank you for commenting.