Sometimes my kids' artwork is really bad. It's nothing but scribbles on a page, their misspelled names, mismatched colors or an abysmal failure to stay within any semblance of a line.

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But I love it all, every time, no matter what. Not because it is artistically brilliant but because it is deeply thoughtful. On some level, in their young little minds, they took the time to process: I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to color a picture for Daddy. I love him and I know he'll love it too. So, I praise whatever masterpiece they come up with like it's the next Mona Lisa. It's beautiful. It's brilliant. I love it because I love them.

MULTI-COLORED BABY GIRAFFES

Not long ago my 4 year old colored a picture of a baby giraffe and specifically requested that I hang it on the bulletin board in my office. I assured her I would and it is now proudly displayed for all my co-workers to see. Why? Because her art is beautiful? No, because her heart is. I am more proud of the girl she is than I am of how perfect or neat or oddly confusing her work for me may be at times.

How barbaric would it have been if I told her: No sweetie, your multi-colored baby giraffe is not good enough for me. First off, giraffes aren't blue and orange and green and red. They are tan and brown. Second, it is completely unrealistic for a giraffe to be wearing a bow around its neck. Third, you colored outside the lines in a couple of places. Your work is awful. A complete failure. I'm too embarrassed for the both of us to hang it on my bulletin board.  

It would crush her, leave her to feel like nothing she ever does will be "good enough" for daddy and potentially paralyze her from ever even trying again.

YOUR HEART, NOT JUST YOUR ART

The longer I walk with Jesus the more I appreciate that He is more proud of me than He is with how perfect or neat or oddly confusing my work for Him may be at times. If my best for Him is a multi-colored baby giraffe then He proudly displays that, not because it's beautiful but because He thinks I am.

God is the type of Father who says: Here's some colors and a blank piece of paper…create something for me, from your heart. Color outside the lines, have fun, put a bow on the neck of a baby giraffe if you want. Just do something for me and know that I love you and am proud of you no matter how the picture turns out in the end.

God's approval of us is rooted not in the work we do for Him but in the work He has done for us through Jesus. This removes all pressure to perform. It gives us the freedom to put ourselves out there for Him, create, do, dream and color outside the lines at times knowing that even in our mess-ups and failures God can be pleased - not because our art is necessarily beautiful to Him but because our love of Him expressed in our trying for Him is.

I'm not saying we shouldn't strive for growth and maturity and excellence. We most certainly should. I am saying, however, that the road which leads to those places is filled with mess-ups, failures and multi-colored baby giraffes. It's also filled with grace from a Father who celebrates us as His dearly loved children and is proud of our efforts for Him because they are an expression of our heart towards Him. We don't need to be paralyzed by these things or feel like nothing we do can ever be good enough for God. Rather, we can embrace them as opportunities to be reminded that the ultimate good has been done for us through Jesus, and that is our only hope.

AN EMPTY CANVAS

God will never be barbaric towards you. Dream big dreams today. He is not embarrassed by you. Pursue that ministry, that passion, that calling today. 

God is not asking you to be the best, He is simply wanting you to do your best - and to trust that the gap between the two is full of grace and mercy and the heart of a Father who loves His children and their multi-colored baby giraffe pictures.

Be the best mom you can be. The best husband you can be. The best employee you can be or the best student or neighbor or friend you can be today. Start there today. Offer that up to God today. He'll love it and all the scribbles or misspellings that may come along with it...because He loves you.

You have an empty canvas, a box full of colors and a Heavenly Father who loves you today. Have fun.

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