Every parent of small children knows that eating in a restaurant with little people can be as stressful as dashing 100 yards across a minefield. You and your spouse enter the restaurant with your kids desiring a nice, quiet family meal, but your heart knows things can change from serene to scream as fast as the spilling of a glass of milk. Thankfully, you are not the first family to venture into the restaurant, and they know the best way to help kids wait for their food is to give them crayons and a menu that they can color on.

Coloring books are great for kids, especially because their little imaginations can soar as they are able to select crayons from a rainbow of colors and transform the white picture any way they want to. Give a few kids the same picture, and no two pictures will come out looking the same.  In the coloring world, dogs can be blue and people can be green with purple hair.

As I watched my kids color, I thought about how there are no rules except the unwritten one—that the budding artist should strive to color inside the lines. Coloring is a lot like life. We come into this world with our life a blank slate, a picture that we get to fill in with our own colors. Like the coloring book, our life’s picture will ultimately look like a colored masterpiece or a scribbled mess based upon the choices we make.

Every parent knows that youngsters struggle with the motor skills necessary to keep the crayon inside the outline. Skillful application of colored wax on paper requires good hand-eye coordination and lots of practice. In life, making wise decisions also requires knowledge, wisdom, and discernment…and that takes time and practice too.

One of the joys of coloring for a child is the feeling of freedom they experience as they get to express their artistry in any direction they choose. The other is when they present the drawing to their parent and say, “See what I did!” God has given us the same freedom to express ourselves and make the choices we want to. In God’s eyes every one of us is a Picasso or Michael Angelo. His  only desire is that we “color between the lines” which we do when we obey His instructions for life. And like the kids, when we do this, in the end we will present Him with a beautiful colored picture of our life.