Read: “Paint-by Number Living,” When You Come Unglued . . . Stick Close to God, pages 113-122.

Do you remember your first day in school—perhaps kindergarten or preschool? Maybe your teacher gave you a lovely picture to color with trees, sun, sky, and flowers. So you retrieved your big box of crayons, all bright and rainbow-colored. And the teacher told you to color the picture, so you laid out all your crayons to pick the one you wanted. Since purple was your favorite color, you used it to color the grass. It was so much fun!

Be all of who God created you to be.But then the teacher came by and said, “No, no, dear. You can’t color the grass purple. Grass isn’t purple; it’s green.” So you put away your purple crayon and picked up the green one and started to color. It wasn’t as much fun, but you wanted to please the teacher. Then the teacher came by and said, “You need to color inside the lines. Don’t you see the lines for the grass? Keep your green crayon inside the the lines.” So you began to color again—this time inside the lines. You really didn’t like it, but then the teacher came by and held up your picture, saying, “See, boys and girls. This is how to color. So neat and tidy inside the lines. Well done!”

At that moment, you learned a life lesson that you probably still live by. When you use the colors that are chosen for you and when you color within the lines that are laid down for you, people will be happy with you.

Do you find yourself wanting to live the life that is expected of you, a life that is acceptable to others? I once heard this condition described by Denis Waitley, a well-known motivational speaker. He said everyone has a big barn of life and it’s up to us to color it any way we want. Most people color their barns like a paint-by-number picture, following an invisible set of guidelines. They paint their barn blue wherever they see the number 1 and green wherever they see the number 2 and so on. Sadly, many of these same people die before they ever see what their picture could have been. Some make it the last unpainted section and then feel disappointed in their picture. “That’s not what I wanted for my life!” they exclaim.

Denis encourages others to splash paint all over the barns of their life. Reds and greens and purples and pinks, blending in and running down the walls, creating a rich kaleidoscope of color and joy.

Perhaps that is what Jesus means when he says that he comes to give you life abundant. Perhaps he sees the need for you to shake off all the false restrictions of this world and give yourself over to the joy of serving God’s purpose. This is such a bold idea, and I know that it makes some readers uneasy. But when you move outside those comfort zones that you have built around yourself, allowing yourself to try new things, walk in new pathways, and experience new adventures, that’s when you learn to trust that God is with you.