I studied and researched paint colors for days: Partly Cloudy, Courtland Blue, Borrowed Light, Little Pond, Saphire Berry. Observing the swatches at different moments of the day, while stepping back and noticing shadows caused changes in the feel and true color. Some I liked, a little bit, but not wholeheartedly. Paint colors hold weight, and one thing remains true: if I don’t love it at first blush, I never will.
So I finally took a picture on my phone, and held it up to the tired man behind the counter. This is the one, I told him. Can you help me?
He shook his head. We can only match a color from paper or an object or a paint chip. The pixels do not work from a phone. They trick you.
This blue I was hunting is relaxing and steady, both calming and invigorating. An open-sky space inviting me to string words.
As it turned out, the long line of color samples I played with were forgettable. Every swatch missed the mark. And then, one evening, I stumbled upon a review of Honest Blue from paint company Sherwin Williams.
When I gazed at the color online, I was not enthused. It seemed too dark, too flat, and too gray. But then I remembered the tricky computer pixels and paid attention instead to the description from Sherwin Williams, along with a plethora of reviews: This color brightens up a room with little natural light. It appears far softer and prettier than shown. It is magnificent. According to its description, Honest Blue is infused with light reflective tones that permeate the darkest of crevices, much to the delight of consumers.
So I went for it in a slim act of faith, trusting the description, and returned home with two gallons in eggshell finish. I flung drop cloths over everything and went to work. Within a few hours, the room was lovely. Transformed. It looked nothing like the swatch, but resembled stretches of sky and ocean. I could have wept at its beauty. It was perfect, just as its makers had noted.
By trusting the words of the designers, my office was made new.
With each passing year, I embrace with growing clarity the truth that there are no shortcuts to personal holiness. Clinging to Christ is the solution for making every moment a holy offering. This passion stirs deep before bubbling to the surface: I am responsible for my own love and obedience to Jesus, whose yoke is easy and burden light.
Like my freshly painted office, God has provided a perfect means of rescue for the sin pulsing through all human veins, covering our ugly walls with fresh, light-infused paint as we repent and turn to him in faith. This is the Good News. A Redeemer to gently touch our pitch dark, hidden spaces, imprinting and softening us into the image of Christ. Our Rescuer is our Lifeblood, our Healer, our Vine, and we are the small branches. Our slave-chains to this world have been severed.
God’s affection upon his own is Honest Blue. Our Creator knows with precision what brings growth and health and beauty to our poverty-stricken souls. Our freedom is found in our chains. Bound to Christ forever. It seems unlikely to be free while remaining tethered, doesn’t it?
The paint might first appear flat or gray or dull, but the reflective light tones of Jesus radiate to the darkest of corners, infusing beauty and brightness to the uttermost, wiping away the grime and cobwebs of our ugly sin. We are new creatures, transformed.
I will be a grandmother soon. I shiver with excitement at the thought of holding that tiny bundle of sweetness. My husband and I pray for our children and grandchild each day. We pray that all of our grandchildren will love God at an early age. Waiting and praying for this baby has caused me to consider the means of personal holiness in a child’s life. I am grieved at the thought of so many children within the universal church, being entertained on Sunday mornings with merry-go-round games and shallow teaching.
No individual, regardless of age, may ever be fettered to Christ without a reckoning of personal sin. A grieving of its grip. How harmful, how confusing to wave a Jesus flag, while skipping over the dark stain of sin? Jesus Saves we warble, which is absolutely true. But saves from what? children wonder. The teaching of our human wickedness and hopelessness without a perfect Rescuer to take our blame is paramount. It is only as we recognize our death sentence that we may fling our souls upon Jesus Christ, tethered to him, cradled in sweet relief.
Remember, that as Christ-followers, we have a God who sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17).
Our Maker sings over us.
Contemplate that for a moment.
Do our children and grandchildren realize the incredible beauty and power and tenderness of our God?
As parents, we may never own our children’s faith. But if we treasure Sunday mornings, holding them sacred and dear, our children are prone to follow. This is the delightful joy of discipleship that is often overlooked: parents to children. Teach them the truth of sin’s horror, followed by the sweetness of God’s mercy and forgiveness and grace and complete rescue.
Sunday mornings at church must never be optional or casual. We are worshipping the highest of Kings, the Creator of all. Our God is set apart and holy. Enter your church in a state of humility, hungry to worship and learn and encourage others in their faith. Spear to death all casual indifference. Display awe and reverence not out of ritual, but from a tender place of highest respect. Your children and grandchildren will then see the goodness of God, and long for the things of Jesus Christ, rather than the poor substitutes of this world.
A few days ago, I stood at the edge of our backyard woods, enjoying the many different types of trees. Little crab apples are forming upon one. As I took in their green plumpness, I had that uncomfortable sense that I was being watched. Peering into the woods, I scanned the area, and saw nothing unusual. Yet I could not shake the feeling. Slowing my gaze, I perused the woods again. Six eyes, camouflaged and still. Three young deer were watching me. Gentle and wide-eyed and still.
If I had not intentionally stepped outside, observant and eager to seek the great outdoors, I would have missed those deer. They still would have been there, but I would have remained pitifully unaware.
God desires for us to seek him (Proverbs 8:17, Deuteronomy 4:29, Psalm 9:10, Psalm 14:2, Psalm 119:2, Lamentations 3:25, Amos 5:4, Psalm 27:8). Do not forsake the spiritual disciplines, which move us toward Christ. Staying tethered to God for a lifetime takes an act of the will. Fortitude. It is arduous to swim against the tide of culture, but I have discovered that personal faith is immeasurably strengthened by obedience, step by step. Our reward will be heavenly. Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).
It is a choice to practice gathering to worship, reading our Bible, meditating on Scripture, praying, and receiving the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of his stunning sacrifice. These are pursuits that rightly follow a heart bent on serving our Father. God is in our midst, patient and gentle and watching.
Tether yourself joyfully to him and live.