By Gary Miller
“At least I didn’t get skunked.” That is a comment that is frequently made after a long deer hunting season that nearly ended without a harvest. For some, it signifies a win in a make-believe world of deer hunting competition. We all should understand this because most of our lives are lived in the mindset of, performance determines pleasing and pleasing determines success, success determines greater benefits.
For instance, if I perform well, my boss is pleased, and if my boss is pleased, I have success and whatever benefits come from that success. Those benefits can be money, position, or even a since of personal satisfaction. At school, if I perform well, the teacher is pleased. And if the teacher is pleased, I get the benefit of a good grade. Ultimately it is this. Performance equals acceptance and success. So, is there any wonder we have assumed God is this way as well? He is not. And your performance has nothing to do with him being pleased with you. Your performance might be pleasing but it is not what pleases him about you. Let me illustrate.
A four-year-old daughter comes to her father with a freshly colored picture. She shows it to him and he goes nuts over it. He says, “This is the most beautiful coloring sheet I have ever seen! I am going to hang right here so I can see it all the time. It’s wonderful.” But then he comments. “But see the sky? The sky is not green. It’s blue. And see the grass outside? It’s green, not red. And that cat? Not many cats are purple. They are more black or gray.” And those lines on the paper? Try really hard to color within those lines.”
The daughter leaves and the next day comes back with another page where the sky is blue, and the grass is green, but the cat is still purple. The father brags once again about the masterpiece his daughter has brought him, and then reminds her about purple cats. Finally, the next day, she brings the final page back where every detail is perfect and kept inside the lines. Her father, once again, brags like he has been handed the Mona Lisa. And then the daughter says. “Daddy, are you pleased with me?” The father pauses and is taken aback, and then realizes that he needs to correct this moment. He says, “Honey, I am not pleased with you because you color within the lines. I am pleased with you because you are mine. You are part of me and are loved by me even if your cats are always purple.”
Christian friend, for many years now, you have been coming to God with your coloring sheet, thinking God will be pleased with you and accept you if you color within the lines – if you can keep all the rules and perform a certain way. It has become exhausting and discouraging, because you (nor anyone) can ever do that. God’s acceptance is not based on your performance but upon his grace. You are his, and the lines God has set are like the lines on that coloring sheet. They are not meant to be the measuring stick for acceptance, but they remind us that God has designed the world to function a certain way. And when we go outside those lines, we go against the grain of his design, and life hurts. Just as that father wants the very best for his daughter, God wants the very best for you – his daughter – his son. You. The one who is already his. The one he is pleased to call his own, even when our cats keep showing up purple.
Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.