Maturity: Lessions From a Young Child

I love watching kids draw pictures. Working in a restaurant in a nearby town, I have the privilege to watch young kids design some pretty cool pictures while waiting for their food. The routine is basically the same: A family comes through the doors of our restaurant and waits to be seated. As they are waiting, the host or hostess observes the family and notices two younger children that are accompanying them to dinner. The host or hostess then picks up four small crayons per child and a coloring sheet per child along with the needed allotment of menus for the table. The host or hostess then takes the family to their dining destination and places both the crayons and the coloring sheets in the center of the table. Immediately little hands begin to grab crayons and paper as the server takes the table’s drink orders. Each child is awestruck with the different color crayons they hold in their hands and begin to draw. One crayon is used and then discarded for another one. Lines and circles begin to fill the page; Squiggles and zigzags make their way onto their canvas. As the food arrives and is placed on the table, the coloring is over and the eating begins. But before the child can make peace with his task, he finishes the last needed scribbles and rejoices with a booming announcement that he has finished. The family members take a moment to observe the colored page their child has toiled over for the past fifteen or twenty minutes (we are not fast food you know). The parents then usually praise their child for accomplishing their artwork. Words like ‘fabulous, good job, and awesome’ are often used. With a smile on the child’s face, he puts down his picture and eats his dinner. He knows when they go home the refrigerator will be awaiting his new work of art.

These are the basic steps I see almost everyday I work. Until lately, I have not thought much about it. I guess because I was unable to see what it was God was trying to show me about myself through the innocent drawings of a child.

I am not a psychologist at all, nor do I claim to have any real knowledge in that area at all. I am only sharing my personal thoughts after reflecting on the subject of maturity: Through the drawings of a child.

As I see young children drawing at the restaurant, something struck me. Young kids (new born – probably like 2 or 3) could care less about the picture on the coloring page! They most likely could tell you who is on the page, but when they color, they dismiss the character on the page and color their own thing. As a child gets older, they begin to carefully study the picture and color inside the lines. The only thing is, most times, the child does not match up the correct colors that we would normally select (i.e. green for the skin, or purple for grass). The main focus seems to be that the child recognizes that there is something on the page and that there are lines given to color in. Thus, the attempt to make the picture “perfect” is thoroughly endeavored. There comes a point then, when a child is old enough to understand what colors go where and effortlessly color the page in a moment’s time. They incorporate shading and other advanced techniques so that the picture looks ‘real’ to the human eye. These three kids represent three stages of maturity I would like to discuss.

When we are first born into the body of Christ, we are on a high. A lot of times, I consider this part of the Christian faith as the ‘honeymoon’ period. All is well with the world because “Jesus has entered the room” of their heart and life is ‘so good.’ They do not care about theology or hermeneutics. They only really know that God has redeemed them from the power of death and they want to go out and tell the world about Him. I am sure you know at least one person who fits this mold. This person is no more different than a young child who receives a coloring sheet with a picture, yet draws his own art. They are not stressed over it; they just want to enjoy coloring for the sake of coloring.

As a believer grows, so does his knowledge of the Word of God and faith. He learns that there are responsibilities, we as believers need to up hold. These things separate us from ‘worldly living’ and are done for obedience sake. This matches quite nicely the young child who is old enough to realize that there is a picture on the page and the task is to color in the picture with the lines provided on the page. Though the child may not have any clue what colors go where, he has figured out that the younger child has not: I should be coloring in the picture on the coloring sheet. Not coloring my own picture. Sometimes this is done with the guidance of a parent or accompanied guest. In the same manner, young Christians are learning how this God stuff works out. Through the help of others, maturity begins to take place within the individual’s life. As the young believer begins to understand, there is a focus and a reason for doing what they do. It might take them a little longer to find the book of Hosea, but they are learning the basics of being a Christian.

The third child I would consider a veteran in the faith. He knows all the pictures. He understands the colors of the rainbow and how they relate to ‘the nature of coloring a picture,’ and he is able to accomplish the task usually with very little or no help at all. A lot like the maturity of a believer in Christ, there comes a time when a person is able to navigate their way through the Bible and look up questions they have concerning what they read. They buy ‘advanced ways of evangelizing’ and study the Word to show them approved to God and God’s work. He still might need help in answering the ‘hard questions’ of life but in general he is able to understand the basics and even many of the hard questions because of his experience, study, and community in which he has grown in for a period of time.

I just think that is cool to consider. I never would have put the drawings of a young child next to the aspect of maturity. Through my personal observations, this has been a very frequent finding though and I am guessing it would be for you all as well if you attempt this test for yourselves.

So what’s the challenge? The challenge is simple. Take a moment and figure out where you are in your artwork. Are you a child that does not see what’s on the page? Do you decide to draw your own thing even though a picture exists on the page? Or are you the child who understands that a picture is on the page and the object is to draw the picture provided? Do you sometimes pick up the wrong crayon color to color in the face or the grass? Or are you the child that draws the picture effortlessly (for the most part) and make the picture look real?

It does not matter which child you are. You are that type of child for a reason. It takes time to grow in maturity; time to grow in Jesus. Do not try and hurry along your faith or your walk with God. You will become frustrated with yourself and others. Accept who you are and where you are on your faith journey and know that Jesus is walking along side of you. It only matters that you are coloring on the page you are given. Take the crayons in your hands and draw a picture that is worthy of putting on the refrigerator. As you grow, your pictures will be more esthetically pleasing and you will find more enjoyment in your work over time. Finally, take some time to look back at the past drawings of your life. You might laugh at your previous attempts but it is important to see how far you have come. It gives you something to be thankful for. Do not stop coloring the picture you have been given. We can learn so much from the drawings of a young child. God bless.

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