I was in the grocery store recently and noticed that among the gossip rags dishing about celebrity affairs and women’s magazines promising an easy way to lose ten pounds was an adult coloring book simply titled Cats with Hats. It was exactly what one would expect, black-and-white drawings of cats wearing different hats: sailor hats, derbies, sun hats, etc. I bring this up for two reasons. 1) It’s completely awesome. 2) It reveals just how popular the current fad of adult coloring books has become.
Looking through my social media feeds, I often see coloring pages that my friends proudly display. Other friends show off paintings they’ve done at wine and painting classes. I see beautiful homemade meals, fun costumes, seasonal decorations all over social media. People love to create so much that Pinterest was born so we (well, someone more ambitious than me) could organize all of the neat ideas we (they) come across.
Even when we don’t fancy ourselves particularly creative, the act of making things engages us in a different way than simply talking about it. I read recently that coloring activates the same part of your brain as praying or meditation (yes, even if it’s cats with hats). It’s with this in mind, that I planned the second flourishing Friday exercise: creating.
So much of scripture is incredibly image-rich. God spoke to us through metaphors and parables, so that we could see and touch and taste what he meant vividly. We can lose something by not soaking in those images and allowing our minds to wander through them. Those pictures help us understand what God is trying to say. As with the previous exercise, creating helps us to slow down and engage scripture so that we might have ears to hear what God is saying through his word in a fresh way.
Here are the steps:
- Grab art supplies & blank paper. With my Bible study, I put out as many art supplies as I could scrounge up: crayons, markers, scissors, glue, magazines, rubber stamps, stickers, construction paper, scrapbook supplies, and blank sheets of paper. The variety allowed us to choose whatever seemed to work with the passage and even play with different media. For you to personally try it, just grab what you have on hand. It doesn’t even have to make sense, just use what you have.
- Read Jeremiah 17:5-8 out loud [yes, out loud]:
5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.
7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.
- Write out verses 5 & 6 on one page [like reading out loud, writing something in long hand forces you to process it differently]. Use your chosen art supplies to illustrate these verses/key words.
- Write out verses 7 & 8 on a second page. Use your chosen art supplies to illustrate these verses/key words.
- Once you’ve completed your art, prayerfully compare the two. What images dominate each picture? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see what God is trying to communicate through the images Jeremiah used.
- As you slowed down to process this passage, what did the Holy Spirit highlight for you?
- What did you learn about the state of your own soul as you reflected on this passage?
I know, I know. Maybe this totally isn’t your cup of tea; however, sometimes doing things outside of our routine causes us to see things as we never have before. Plus, this is the kind of activity that you could do with kids, since it is so hard to find a quiet moment with little ones around. Challenge yourself this week to try it. Maybe it’ll be a waste of 25 cents worth of art supplies and paper. It could also help you see what God has to show you through his word in a way you haven’t seen him before. That alone is worth the risk.
May you flourish today, like a tree planted by flowing water, bearing fruit in every season.