There are those who fall into the category of “coloring inside the lines” because it’s what you’re supposed to do, because it looks neater that way, and because those are the “rules.” If you fall in this category, you just about cringe when you see a child’s coloring book page that’s scribbled all willy-nilly. It drives you nuts when the edges of the objects are breached by color trying to escape the confines of the cell that holds it. And it takes every ounce of restraint in you not to want to “set them straight.”
Then there are those who fall into the category of “it doesn’t matter whether you color in the lines at all.” You tend to think of it as being free-spirited and creative. You look at walls and straight lines as being too rigid and confining. You celebrate your child’s crazy, willy-nilly picture that’s a hodgepodge of color which bleeds far beyond the boundaries. You don’t desire to “set them straight” at all. You, in fact, encourage this effort and tell them to keep being unique.
There’s a resident at the assisted living facility where I work who’s probably 70-something. She’s a very classy, hip dresser who looks quite fit and is always dolled up. She’s got great taste in clothes and I frequently compliment her on how she looks. But here’s the thing…although she loads up on the makeup—and does a tastefully good job—her lipstick is disastrous. It’s all over the place. It’s way beyond her lip lines. I’m not sure if this is because she can’t see good enough to tell where the lines are, or if she just wants to appear as though she has bigger lips. Whatever the reason, she continues to do it day after day. It’s kind of a crack up. People even tell her that it’s all over the place, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Funny, huh?
Let me ask you a question. On the coloring pages of life, is it okay to color outside the lines? Is it okay to scribble our lives all willy-nilly, going beyond the boundaries? Is it okay to breach the walls and edges of what’s right or good or acceptable? Truth be told, some of you are saying a resounding “yes!” And further truth be told, some of the rest of you are thinking it might actually be fun for a while.
In The Message translation of Psalm 11:7, we read “God’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, setting us straight.” You see, we can color outside the lines of life all we want. But God’s desire, God’s plan, God’s perfect plan is that we live right lives in His sight. And when we go too far coloring outside the lines of life, He’s right there to set us straight, to keep us on His path, to live according to His desire and plan.
I’m grateful we have a God like this. A God who cares so much about us—even when we get a little willy-nilly in our living. A God who loves us dearly—even in the midst of our colorful, hodgepodge lives that sometimes bleed outside the lines. A God who wants us to have the freedom and creativity to live life to the full. A God who, when we stray too far in that freedom, will seek us out and set us straight. Yes…I’m grateful we have a God like this.