A color-by-number picture of an elephant surrounded by flowers stared up at me. I was nearing my college graduation, and my level of stress was through the roof. Where was I going next? Would I have a job, or would I be wandering the adult world without a clue? Usually, I color to gain some clarity. I searched the uncolored page before me for answers.
2-scarlet 7-yellow orange 12-green 14-cerulean 16-indigo 19-red violet 23-gray
All the instructions were laid out in front of me—the task could not get any easier. I was free to mindlessly match the colors and numbers while letting my brain filter through more important matters. I started from left to right with the first color prompt: scarlet. I tracked down every respective 2 there was–or so I thought. Then, I fished for the yellow orange crayon and sought every corresponding 7. Halfway through filling in the spaces created for yellow orange, I realized I had missed a 2. I reverted back to scarlet and colored it in.
If you guessed that I had to retrace my steps to tag a missed 7, you are correct. This whole process repeated with green. Not only did I miss a 12 (and then almost color it in with cerulean later), but I began coloring in a 16 by mistake. My crayon screeched to a halt. Seriously? Why is this becoming so difficult? I was getting frustrated with something meant to be peaceful. I almost threw the coloring book on the floor and gave up. But I knew that wouldn’t solve anything. Instead, I took a deep breath and determined to finish the mini-project.
I colored all the cerulean spaces, the indigo, and so forth but not without continuous mishaps. I was astonished at myself for missing so many spots and mixing up clearly distinguished colors. With the instructions planted right in front of me to constantly see and follow, it should have been a piece of cake. My problem was that my mind was elsewhere, and I wasn’t truly focused on what was at hand.
Despite the bumps in the road, I effortlessly covered the cerulean mistake with green, and in turn, I was able to bulldoze over the green mistake when I reached indigo. It was during this moment that the Lord spoke to my heart.
God gives us numerous puzzle pieces throughout our lifetimes. They all come together to make grander pictures. We don’t always receive these pieces in their fullness right away, especially if God is taking His time unfolding the pattern, but more often than not, He drops hints or keys to take us one step closer to answers, to blessings.
Our problem is that we get distracted. Even when the Lord tells or shows us specific things about a picture, we ignore bits of what we’re assigned to do, or we try to color in the picture a different way than intended, like when I put cerulean where green should have gone or green where there should have been indigo. We are defiant and headstrong, or we merely have accidents because we are human and prone to fail.
Whatever the case, if we misstep, we’re required to rewind and essentially start over even if it’s just to do touch-ups. Some go willingly; others go kicking and screaming, which is understandable. Who doesn’t get irritated or discouraged when he or she has to revisit what feels like old territory to make things right?
Here’s the good news, though: Going back, trying again, and making things right teaches us lessons we may not learn otherwise. Wisdom is gained, trust is built in the Lord, and faith is stretched and challenged until it grows. In the end, God gives us the grace to correct our mistakes. In the same way that I was able to cover the incorrect colors with the right ones, our pictures will all turn out the way they are supposed to. We may not always know the whys (or the hows or how-longs), but we can rest assured that everything happens for a reason. God has the final masterpiece in mind. All we have to do is be obedient with our tools and trust that the design is in our favor.
Featured Image by J. Kelly Brito
In-Text Image Colored by Becca James