“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth.” John 14:16-17
“…since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29
First graders taught me valuable lessons during my one precious year as their teacher. I was twenty-four years old; they were six. I look back and realize how quickly the teacher became the student! One particular lesson+ came from“Center time:” a time of separating students into groups or by individuals to explore several ways of learning. A big favorite was the Art Center. I put a huge smock on these little people, put a giant brush in their tiny hands, admonished them to paint only the paper, and squirted paint colors into the tray. If you have spent time with young children in the arena of art, you probably understand that limiting materials may prevent messes before they happen. No one had shared this nugget of wisdom with me:
Six year-olds will use as much paint as you give them.
Ok. One colossal mess later: lesson learned. The next time, art went off without a hitch. I gave them fewer choices of color, and less of each color. The best part: the kids, having no real thoughts of these limitations, would create masterpieces with abandon! They did not risk random brush strokes, because they wanted to have enough paint to complete their pictures. They kept painting continuously until the timer sounded and it was time to travel to another center.
The following verses from Titus brought back the memory of those days in my classroom. This had to be God’s prompting, because as you can see, this passage has nothing to do with painting! And yet…
“He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3: 4-7
I think we can all agree that my action of withholding paint saved time and effort, and probably preserved my sanity as well. But God did exactly the opposite for His children!
He gave to us freely because we would make messes!
We did not earn our Savior or the Spirit of Truth through our righteousness. We received them because we desperately needed the “washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” He did not give just a little, “He poured out on us abundantly.” God is continually filling our paint trays!
So why give us limitless grace and mercy?
He knew we would have consequences and pain.
He knew we would try, but fail miserably sometimes.
He knew we would be angry, jealous, mean, and afraid.
He knew, and He still knows.
God poured out every color of grace and mercy for us as if He were saying, “My child, here is your paint. Lots of paint. I have not withheld any perfect gift, so do your best and most beautiful works for Me and through Me.”
With God’s unconditional love comes confidence and responsibility to do great things for Him and His church. Pour out mercy as it is poured out for you. Go into the world unafraid to show the mistakes you have made, the messes that needed cleaning. Use them to help someone ease their pain. Let everyone know that your days are His days.
Trust in Him. Paint with no restraint.
Make your life a beautiful masterpiece for Him.