Back to school time brings memories of the last weeks of summer and getting ready for school. I had an old trunk in my room as a child, and I would excitedly fill it with composition books, pens, pencils and other school supplies as my mother and I would shop during August. But my favorite thing to add every year was that wonderful large box of brand new, pristine Crayola crayons. Not the 10 pack or 12 pack, but that big box of 64 with its perfectly pointed rows of every color known to the existing coloring book world. The best part? The sharpener imbedded in the back of the box. That meant that even as I wore down Burnt Orange, Cerulean, Apricot and Scarlet, I would get that pointy point back by peeling down the paper and sharpening it.
While sharpening brought back the fineness to the rounded end of a well-used crayon, it could never bring back that original shape with the molded rim, the perfect cone, and the cut-off top. As much as I sharpened, I could never bring the whole box back to its original state. Using them the way they were intended allows the crayons to perform their purpose. Crayons change as they impart color from themselves to paper. Just as they were designed to do.
And oh, the color they added to my world!
Ephesians 2 The Message (MSG)
He Tore Down the Wall
2 1-6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving.
He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
Our collective purpose here is to join Christ in the work he does. It is good work, it is work he has prepared for us, and it brings meaning to our lives to join him in this. God does the making and the saving, and we are invited to be the earthly expression of that, according to our gifts. When we fulfill our purpose like this, we are changed like a well-used crayon.
For some, that will be doing hands-on mission work. For others, that will be teaching children about Jesus, starting a recycling program in their community, delivering a casserole to a shut in, or listening to someone unburden themselves. Just like a box of crayons, we all have a different color that God calls us to use in his service. I can’t be Cerulean, but I can strive to be the best Burnt Orange I can. And by submitting to the sharpener of listening to God’s word and God’s will in our lives, we can remain useful in bringing about the kingdom on earth.
Where is God calling you to color your world? Have you grown dull from misuse or disuse, and need a good sharpening?
Proverbs 27 tells us that “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Find a person deep in the word, go to church and listen to the sermon, join a Bible Study…ask others to help guide you to the good work to which you are called. Then get out your crayon and color away. You are useful. You are called. You have a purpose, and nobody else can color your color. Be you, and go color your world!
Photo by shop.crayola.com