This is a picture of my baby daughter's coloring page.
Okay, sorry, I actually I don't have one because she's only 9 months old. But she's SO cute isn't she!?! And I hooked you with a cute baby pic so you're invested now right?
Anna's not exactly a huge fan of coloring yet. I’m sure she will be eventually, but for now I'm pretty sure she's not even aware that such a thing exists; and I'm positive she doesn't have the skills (mentally or physically) to actually color.
In Anna's world, coloring isn't even on the radar. She may be able to see colors and pictures, but she really doesn't have any context for them. So I would argue she doesn't really have an appreciation for it. In her baby world, she's yet to grown into an appreciation or love for coloring or art- it will come, but for now her eyes have not been opened to it and her present maturity level would not support it.
I want to talk about maturity. Spiritual maturity in particular.
I had a dream the other night about my kids coloring abilities (because, you know- that's what we moms dream about.) and was struck by the difference in skill level and accuracy between the 9 mo old (read, none....) the 2-year old and the 4-year old. None are early Michaelangelo's (that I can tell...), but the difference in their abilities is worth noting. Let me show you examples (and I apologize in advance for the Cars theme- with two boys under five it’s just a fact of life of where our house is at artistically right now!)
Here is a picture my 2-year old colored.
Notice the random coloring, there’s been no attempt stay in the actual lines, the color palate is limited to one hue. It is chaotic to look at. I’ll give him credit for choosing red (he knows that Mac is red), and I'll give him credit for coloring on the picture (as opposed to the white spaces or my coffee table!), but that’s about as much meaningful interaction he’s had with the picture itself.
Let’s cut the kid some slack though, Jonah is only two. He has limited fine motor skills to adequately stay in the lines. He’s done what he can to color in a way that is the best of his ability at this stage in his life. And in the short two years of his life, he’s not spend a tremendous (or regular) amount of time practicing coloring. He does when it amuses him, when it peaks his interest.
Now check out the 4 ½ year olds work-
In addition to being a ham and very proud of his picture, Jesse is clearly the better artist right now- but he’s got two years on his brother and twice the experience (both in time and practice.) He sees the picture itself and has tried to stay in the lines. He used the correct colors (for this particular session, he actually went and got his Mac truck toy and set it out so he could get the colors right.) Jesse’s fine motor skills are more refined, his intellect is more mature (in that he sees the picture and what it’s supposed to represent), and this boy LOVES to color- he ‘practices’ all the time.
Now here’s my picture….
Okay, just kidding. I didn’t actually color this. However it’s safe to say that my coloring aptitude, my ability to stay in the lines and make a beautiful picture far outshines my sons. Not that I’m some huge artist, but I’ve got 30-some years of practice and experience on them. Not to mention I have quite a bit more fine motor skills. If I were to try to color Mac, I’d use all the colors I needed to, utilize shading maybe, try to give him texture. You get the idea.
My artistic talent started as a baby like Anna and worked its way through time, skill, and practice into someone who can now pretty easily color not only in the lines, but using the correct tones and hues to make the picture look the way it should.
It would be strange if my ability was the same as Jonah’s or Jesse’s, because just as in all things in life, the expectation is that we improve, mature, and grow in things we do. In medicine, in school, in business… we look for trends- and not just any direction, we want improvement.
Is it not so with our spiritual walks as well?
The expectation is that we mature. The hope is that we continue to refine. The command is that we bear fruit… good fruit.
Bear fruit in keeping with repentance… Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 3: 8, 10 ESV
So I would ask, where are YOU today?
Take a mental snapshot of your life right now. How much good fruit is evident in your life- both in quantity and quality? Is there a trend of improvement?
Are you coloring inside the lines, using the colors God’s told you to? Are you obediently coloring where you’re supposed to, enhancing the picture God has put you into? Is there improvement?
Now remember back 5 years ago. How does your fruit compare? Is there improvement?
How about when you became a Christian? Is there improvement?
I pray dear one that your life exemplifies improvement. I hope you are coloring where and how you’re supposed to be. I fervently wish that your life shows a trend of overall maturity and improvement.
Thank you for taking the time to read my heart today. Please comment below with thoughts and ruminations of where your walk is today- and stay tuned for part 2 coming to a blog near you!