Beliefnet
Reprinted from The Cure for the Common Life with permission of W Publishing Group.

Tucked away in the cedar chest of my memory is the image of a robust and rather rotund children's Bible class teacher in a small West Texas church. She wore black eyeglasses that peaked on the corners like a masquerade mask. Silver streaked through her black hair like a vein on the wall of a mine. She smelled like my mom's makeup and smiled like a kid on Christmas when she saw us coming to her class. Low-heeled shoes contained her thick ankles, but nothing contained her great passion. Hugs as we entered and hugs as we left. She knew all six of us by name and made class so fun we'd rather miss the ice-cream truck than Sunday school.

Here is why I tell you about her. She enjoyed giving us each a can of crayons and a sketch of Jesus torn from a coloring book. We each had our own can, mind you, reassigned from cupboard duty to classroom. What had held peaches or spinach now held a dozen or so Crayolas. "Take the crayons I gave you," she would instruct, "and color Jesus." And so we would.

We didn't illustrate pictures of ourselves; we colored the Son of God. We didn't pirate crayons from other cans; we used what she gave us. This was the fun of it. "Do the best you can with the can you get." No blue for the sky? Make it purple. If Jesus' hair is blond instead of brown, the teacher won't mind. She loaded the can.

She taught us to paint Jesus with our own colors.

God made you to do likewise. He loaded your can. He made you unique. But knowing what he gave you is not enough. You need to understand why he gave it: so you could illustrate Christ. Make a big deal out of him. Beautify his face; adorn his image. The next few chapters have one message: color Christ with the crayons God gave you.

Don’t waste years embellishing your own image. No disrespect, but who needs to see your face? Who doesn't need to see God's?

Besides, God promises no applause for self-promoters. But great reward awaits God-promoters: "Good work! You did your job well" (Matt. 25:23 MSG). My teacher gave us something similar. Judging by her praise for our sketches, you'd think Rembrandt and van Gogh attended her class. One by one she waved the just-colored Christs in the air. "Wonderful work, Max. Wonderful!"

I smiled the size of a cantaloupe slice. You will too.

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