Tuesday, November 25, 2014

On Display

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

Little legs pumped quickly as excitement grew all the way down the hall to the first classroom on the left.  Lilly entered and immediately found her work laying on the table. It was more than artwork; it was a display of creativity and effort, an extension of her tiny four year old heart.

Watching the two of them, I realized her daddy and I could have stayed home.  Bent over the bright, yellow creation book, she and her brother shared one of those moments that only exists between two children who grew inside their momma together. Their bond is always such a wonder to me even after all this time, and it has grown stronger with every passing year. With one arm around Lilly’s shoulder, Jake cocked his head slightly to catch his sister’s eye, as if what he was saying was of utmost importance.

And it turns out, it was.

“Wooooooowwwww! Lilly, you made that?! Great job!” he exclaimed. Praise for her careful work continued on and on as we stood behind them nodding in agreement.  Lilly beamed with pride, then led us around the room to point out more artwork hanging on the walls.

Afterwards we trekked down the hall to Jake’s classroom and I was surprised to find a similar yellow creation book out on display.  It’s not uncommon that two four year old classes do the same activity, but his genuine enthusiasm for Lilly’s work had me thinking his class had done something entirely different. The four of us crowded around the short, preschool table and watched as he flipped through all seven days, telling us about each page in as much detail as a boy his age cares to share. 
It didn’t register with me fully until the ride home: Jake knew they had made the very same project. He must have recognized the similarities in each piece of art bound together with rainbow ribbon in his sister’s classroom, yet he chose to celebrate her. It’s a rare occasion to see that kind of delight in honoring someone else. It was encouragement that wasn’t staged. It was love without dangling strings. It was a beautiful example of how we’re all called to live.

At home, I placed the two books side by side and marveled at the contrast in technique, color, and style of my two little artists. Each difference reminded me that God may have knit these children side by side in my womb, but He made them unique. As I turned the last page, I realized why I was smiling. It wasn’t the differences that made my heart swell; it was the unity that God had reflected through a simple preschool open house art project.

The stories were the same.

How many times have I compared myself to another- to the very work God has done in another heart- only to come up feeling slighted? How many times have I failed to see Jesus in someone's story because I was too focused on myself and how I fall short? God is showing me that my story, your story, his story, her story…. they are all the same story. Though a creative God brings diversity to each one, His beauty is displayed in our unity.

Colossians 1:17 becomes vibrant to me in light of this realization. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

It is Jesus who brings oneness to every story told. He is the center and He gets the credit because He does the work.  He is our Pursuer, our Rescuer, Redeemer, Restorer, the One who holds us and holds our stories together. And the amazing part? He allows us to be reflectors of His glory.

May we boldly display God’s work in us for everyone to see.  May we celebrate our differences in light of our common bond, remembering that harmony reverberates from a well-told Jesus story. And may others be delighted with a childlike heart and compelled to invite Jesus to write their stories too.