A New Leaf

Ponderings in Changing Seasons


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On RULES … Crayons and Coloring Books

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Splatter!  My crayons spilled out of their box onto the floor beside my desk.  “Oh, what a pretty flower!” exclaimed David Sullivan.  Funny Boy!  I giggled!

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We were only 7.

Mrs. Watkins told me to put them up back in the box and get into line for Lunch.  Girls were leading;  Boys, following.

After Recess, we colored pictures.  I was chagrined to see that several of my crayons had broken in the fall.  I was careful to use only the ones that were intact.  I didn’t like the broken ones.  I needed the black one, but since it was one that was broken, I used the navy blue.  A small tear fell from my eye as I thought about my whole box of Crayolas: ruined!

Flash forward to College.  In studying to become an Elementary Teacher, we took Art.  The Professor, who loved children and loved her students, encouraged each of us to find ourselves in artistic expression.  One class, I’ll never forget.  She encouraged us to break the Crayon Rules:  to break our crayons … and to strip off the paper around them.  Horrified at the thought, my mind flashed back to Second Grade and my “pretty flower”!

Obeying her lead, however, I exposed the bare crayon.  I began to explore ways I could use a crayon besides coloring in the lines in a coloring book.  The most fun:  turning the Crayola on its side, making big swipes of color in the pastel streaks of a morning sky.  Amazing!  How the waxy color took on depth and hue so different.  I used my fingers to rub a bit on the colors on the page, blending the edges into transition from blue to lavender to pink to yellow.  On the edge of the sky, I applied more yellow to intensify the moment just before the sun’s golden orb emerges on the horizon.

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This simple, yet complex discovery led to more discoveries about the function of Rules!

RULES.  So important to bring order and predictability to our lives.  RULES.  No society can long endure without them.  RULES.  They make a family secure.  RULES. Language, our communication with one another follows them.  RULES.  They set safe boundaries around us all.

BUT.  What happens when we break the rules?  Might there be any good reason to break a rule?  Ever??

Rebels will posture:  Weren’t RULES made to be broken, after all?

BUT.  We’re not rebels here.  Only children, exploring the extent of the boundaries.

Looking to see what lies beyond.  How far can we stretch?  Our minds.  Our bodies.  Our lives.  What if … ?

Jesus always moved with purpose and design.  Nothing He did was random or careless.  Once, He and His Disciples were hungry.  It was on the Sabbath.  As they passed a wheat field, they stopped and partook of some wheat heads to quell the rumblings in their stomachs.  CAUGHT!  Breaking the RULES!  

The Rule?  Do no work on the Sabbath.  The Second Commandment:  Honor the Sabbath and keep it Holy.  Apparently, breaking off a few wheat heads amounted to work:  Breaking the RULE of the Sabbath!  Expediency for Jesus trumped the “Fence Rule” that the Pharisees had derived from the Commandment.  Honoring the Sabbath, as Jesus impatiently pointed out, has to do with honoring God, His Holy Day.  He doesn’t ask of us to go hungry.  Who doesn’t cook or prepare a meal … or have one prepared for you on the Holy Day?

Another time, Scripture tells us that David and his men were also very hungry.  They were on the run from King Saul.  The most convenient food available was the shewbread in the Temple.   So, they partook.  Well, you’d think they’d eaten the Holy of Holies Itself.  What an offense to the priests of the Temple.  The offense was to man, however, not to God.

Or, how about you?  When you’re baking and you’re lacking a specific ingredient?  Do you not break the rule and use something else in order to break bread together in a timely way?

There are so many rules that drive our world.  There are rules for driving, rules for eating, rules for fashion – work, sports, relaxing.  There are even rules for health and for happiness.

God made each of us unique.  Some of us show our colors best from the side.  We are display of His Handiwork.  We were made to grow, to change, to expand our influence and impact.  Sometimes, we just have to BREAK THE RULES to become fully who He created us to be.

We’re not talking about immoral here.  Or, illegal.  We’re talking about not being such a rule follower that we are scared to get out of the mold that confines us, that keeps us stuck in the mire of regrets or the fear of changing because of what lies ahead.

We’re talking about living outside the box, living large, because that is precisely what He created us to do.  He created us to be creative!  His is a mobile, a fluid creative work in each of us.  In the Psalms, 104:30, I find a cry that echoes within my being:  Send forth Your Spirit, and we shall be [continuously] created, and renew the face of the earth.

And in John 10:10 He tells us that He intends we have Life and Life MORE ABUNDANTLY.  That, my friends, is what our Creator, Sustainer God wants for each of us.  Not a life of rule-keeping, but an expansive, generous, scandalously lived and loved Life.  

Scandalous!  Does that shock?  It doesn’t God because He Himself Loves scandalously, which means NOT counting the cost, but rather giving without reserve.

God’s Grace and His Mercy toward us is scandalous!  It defies logic and common sense.  IT BREAKS ALL THE RULES.

Read Hosea this week, a short book late in the Old Testament, tucked between Daniel and Joel.  Think of yourself as Gomer.  And remember how Hosea stayed the course with her out of his scandalous commitment, his unwavering love not even so much for Gomer as for his God.

Then, grab some crayons, break them up, color your life expansively, generously, scandalously, because You are made IN GOD’s IMAGE!

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