Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Living Color

This post was written, but never posted. Today, it seemed appropriate to post (and my mom LOVES me to tell stories on her).

When I was a little boy growing up in Premont, TX, I remember my mom deciding to paint our kitchen. Back in those days (before the large home improvement stores - and especially in a small town), you went to the local hardware store to purchase your paint. And instead of a wall of paint chips that you could take home and pin on the wall, you looked at a large book that had very, very small squares of paint. And instead of fancy names for colors (like gilded pesto or ripe avocado), you had a code. And instead of a computerized color matching and dispensing system to mix your paint, the tints were hand dispensed by a formula and a large machine.

On this day, when I was a little boy, my mom decided to paint our kitchen yellow. As she looked at the big book of paint colors with all the tiny, tiny squares of yellow - from palest yellow to deep, dark, bold yellow, she struggled to pick out the right shade. Once she settled on a nice, safe, mellow shade of yellow, I convinced her it was too light. And, having a fleeting moment of lucidity, she listened to me. I told her to go few squares down - be bold, live a little, make a statement (I have since learned to never take design advice from a 8 yr old).

I was thrilled to watch the tints go into the cans of paint - there was a lot of deep dark yellow pumped into the can. And, as we got home, and mom opened up the can, she hesitated.

"It's really bright" she said.

"It's colorful", I said.

She painted, and as it dried it got darker, and brighter. The next morning, I walked into the kitchen, and was immediately awakened by our bright, egg-yolk yellow kitchen. I had no idea a yellow could glow like that when the morning sun lit the room.
Mom decided it had to go - and I had to agree. So she mixed it with some white paint, and tried again - still to bright. So she mixed some more white paint with it, until she found the right color. (And then a few years later, she decided wall paper was a much safer/better option.)

But, as I lived through my own painting fiasco in my own kitchen, I had to laugh. I had done the same thing, but I also took a risk, took a leap of faith over a paint swatch, and decided to live outside of the box.
Let's face it, most of us live in a white (or eggshell) house. We are too scared to paint the walls, too scared to take the risk. What if we don't like it, what if it's the wrong color, what if it doesn't go with the furniture, what if the neighbors laugh! (We've had that happen too).

But in our game plan of living safe, of not taking risks, of living in an off-white bland house, I sometimes feel we have forgotten what risks are all about, what faith is about, what trying new things are about.

And in our Christian walk, we forget what faith is. It's trusting in what we can't see - it's taking a risk. It's performing a deed without knowing the outcome because we know it's what God has told us to do. Hebrews 11 tells us (in the Message version), "The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see. . . . It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him."
As I see it, we have a choice. We can live a life of little faith, trusting in only the things we see and that we consider a safe choice (like living in a house with all white walls). Or, we can live a life full of faith, full of trust, full of living color.

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