The Paint Saga (or why my dining room is now chocolate)

Some women have a remarkably ability to scan through the hundreds of swatches on the paint displays at Wal-Mart or Home Depot and spot the perfect color for a room makeover.

Not me.  God chose not to give me that talent.

Knowing my handicap, when I decided to repaint the dining room (to cover over years of food stains from various children), I scanned the rainbow of choices every time I shopped at Wal-Mart for two months.

I grabbed up potential color samples and set them on my counter at home  As I walked by periodically, I’d hold a color up to the light, a wall, or the curtains and narrow the contenders down bit by bit.

I had a winner.  I bought the paint and began swathing it onto the walls.  My two-year-old “helped.”  Then I stepped back to survey my masterpiece.

It was okay.  Not quite what I hoped. More grey than brown.  But okay.

Finishing the whole first coat, I cleaned the house waiting for it to dry and glanced at the room from different angles and in different lights until I finally realized the truth.

This was a disastrous, horrible, ugly mess of a color.

In some lights it was a light brown like my morning tea. But in other lights, it was a hodgepodge of purpleish-greyish-brownish blah.

It took a second look, but now I knew this was a home decorating disaster.

Standing at the paint counter again, I told the poor guy assigned to work that day, “I don’t want grey-brown, orange-brown, red-brown or green-brown.  I want brown.  You know, brown.”

He motioned to the display of 1000 color choices and I shook my head at him.  “That’s too many choices,” I said.  “Show me the brown.”  He handed me one little strip of colors to limit my options.

I liked “Western Buffalo.”  My daughter liked “Mid-Autumn Acorn. ” Given my track-record of rotten taste in paint, I let my five-year old pick the color.

At home, I started painting again and I knew that this was another bad choice.  It looked splotchy and shiny and drab and dark all at the same time.  Not at all the rich chocolatey brown I wanted.

Yet, this was the color I had and I was sticking with it.  No way was I going back to the paint guy again.  He’d probably run away if he saw me.

Then the paint dried.  I replaced the clock and the pictures, hung the chimes and moved my books back onto the bookshelves.

I took a second look and realized . . . .I loved it.  It wasn’t what I planned or expected; it was a surprise of joy.

My daughter declared it was “yummy” and that it looked just like a chocolate bar.  I agree.  And who, more than me, could love a room that looks like chocolate?!

Second looks are sometimes what we need to discover the truth about situations.  We so often make snap judgments about people and life.  We think we know what’s going on.  We think we know what’s a disaster and what’s a blessing.

Baalam thought he knew what was happening to him, also.

In Numbers 22, we read that Baalam was a prophet-for-hire, a mercenary spiritualist whom you could pay to bless or curse others.  So, when an enemy king offered him money to curse the nation of Israel, Baalam hopped on his donkey and traveled to the job site.  It was all in a day’s work for him.

Then the donkey stopped and stubbornly refused to go any farther.  Baalam beat the animal with a stick and forced it back onto the road where it happened again and again.  Finally, the donkey laid down on the ground and refused to budge, no matter how much Baalam hit him.

Baalam thought he knew what was going on.  His donkey was being difficult, disobedient, stubborn and unruly.

Finally, “the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?'” (Numbers 22:28).

It wasn’t the talking donkey that got his attention.  It was God.

It was then that “the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown” (Numbers 22:31). 

This wasn’t an arbitrary donkey.  This was the presence of God blocking Baalam’s way so that he would not curse Israel.

The Message says it this way:  Then God helped Balaam see what was going on” (Numbers 22:31).

We need God to help us see what is going on, too.

What looks like disaster may be for our benefit.  The person we judge may be the one to show us mercy.  We think we’re alone, and yet God is with us.  The darkest times may simply be the moments when we’re in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 63).

James wrote: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

We need to ask God for His perspective on all we face.  We need Him to give us a second look, this time with eyes open to all that God is doing, even if it isn’t what we expect or plan.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

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