I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14
Spring is the season when the colors come out, and not just in the many buds and blossoms that fill the gardens and trees which have lain dormant for months. I noticed this a few weeks ago while participating with my colleagues in commencement ceremonies at Concordia University – Ann Arbor. As the faculty gathered, I was surrounded by an assortment of colors on the robes and hoods of the professors. Some of the color schemes are attractive, some are bizarre, but all of them tell a story.
Colors on the hood signify the academic area in which the degree was earned as well as the university from which it was earned. The university’s colors are easy to detect. As Concordia is also my alma mater, my hood features the school’s red and white colors. But the real fun comes from the colors that represent the content areas. I am not too displeased with the light blue that identifies my degree in education, especially when I consider what colors I might have been given to wear. Were my degree in music, I would be processing in pink – not the most manly of colors. Some colors don’t seem to match the content area to which they were aligned. Take fine arts for example. Artists do amazing things with vibrant colors, so why are their hoods a basic brown? Or consider business majors. Why would a group of people who spend their lives making green hood themselves in drab? Is that even a color? Guess I’d better ask someone wearing brown) To be fair, some of the hood colors make perfect sense. A degree in criminal justice will not only get you fitted for a midnight blue uniform, but a hood to match. And I was not surprised to learn that those people who strut around with degrees in government and public service would sport peacock colored hoods.
While I poke fun at the color of the hoods, I must be careful to remain respectful of one thing – the work that went into earning that degree. I may not be a fan of the colors of every hood, but I recognize the accomplishment that it represents. The person wearing these colors has worked, sacrificed, and disciplined themselves to earn a level of academic achievement that roughly 10% of Americans will reach. So while these colors may not be flattering or our personal favorite, they identify us as special within our discipline, setting us apart as uniquely accomplished within our academic areas.
This same concept can be applied to the lives that many Christians live. God knows us – has created us with gifts and abilities that are uniquely us. Our lives are a testimony to what He has done for us and our thoughts, words and deeds demonstrate these things as proudly and as prominently as a graduate degree’s hood. In His great love for us, God has equipped us for everything we will encounter. God comes to our aid by revealing himself to us, creating a relationship with us, saving us through the death and resurrection of His Son, and allowing us to preach and teach this gospel message by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, many people try to downplay who they are in one way or another. We pursue things that have no bearing on the world and little importance even in our own lives. Sometimes our decisions can be confusing, destructive, or contrary to the will of God in our lives. In these cases we do a tremendous disservice to ourselves, to those around us who have sown into us along the way, and of course to our God. It was Shakespeare who once wrote “To thine own self be true,” an admonition to be yourself in all things – especially when dealing with yourself. You’d think this would be easy, but how often do we try to convince ourselves that we are something we are not? We look in the mirror and see our color and decide it’s the wrong shade, or that it’s really yellow instead of red, or that we’d look better wearing somebody else’s color. It’s easy to fall into this trap, to seek shades that don’t belong to us all the while wishing our true colors would change or go away.
At the risk of being a bit too simple, when it comes down to it we have been made by God with colors He chose. As our creator, He had a vision of who we were and what we could be, so He used the correct colors to ensure that His masterpiece would be complete. Instead of being frustrated about what we lack, we should be thankful for the colors He provided. May we continually thank and praise the Artist who so marvelously crafted us, seeking His guidance to find just the right mix of our colors to create the most vibrant and beautiful shade of “us” we can make.