Paint-by-Numbers to Picasso: God Is No Pet

When I first came to trust in Jesus, I was four years old. I’m glad I received faith’s message in a plain, thick-line-drawn, coloring book format as a child. It was what I could apprehend, a “handle” on life in God. Each year, I’d pick up a new crayon to color The Picture in a little bit. I had teachers who–sometimes lovingly, sometimes not–would exhort me to “stay in the lines.” Through my teenage years, I began experimenting with markers and watercolors, and in college I traded in the coloring book altogether and graduated to a paint-by-numbers Monet, I think. I finally realized that I’m not much of a visual artist, but I can appreciate the work of others and collaborate in my own way. From Rembrandt to Dali to Picasso, art keeps looking different but it’s still art. Similarly, God keeps looking different, but it’s still God. Everytime I grow and mature, there God is. And whenever I stumble or regress, God is right there as well.

I’m glad God isn’t like so many other artifacts from my childhood, my adolescence, my early 20s. God isn’t like a Pet Rock or Chia Pet or Giga Pet–God is untamable, simple and complex at once. God and life and love and loss keep on looking different depending on the medium, but the art is getting richer and more satisfying.

This was originally posted on September 9, 2007.

5 Responses to Paint-by-Numbers to Picasso: God Is No Pet

  1. brotherjohnny September 9, 2007 at 8:59 pm #


    Our good Papa will never leave or forsake us.

    One consistent thing about my perception of Gods character is that He is good.

    Even when I would make my bed in hell, He was there.

  2. Steph September 10, 2007 at 3:22 am #

    I know there is depth to this post, but I can’t seem to get past the ‘holy hannah there’s a MR T CHIA PET!’

    *giggles uncontrollably*

  3. zoecarnate September 10, 2007 at 3:38 am #

    I hear ya, Steph…and Johnny. Good points, both of you. : )

  4. Gunnar September 11, 2007 at 7:04 am #

    While God certainly isn’t a pet rock or a chia pet, I have no doubt I would feel MUCH more satisfied in life if I owned an authentic Mr. T Chia doll of some sort. In fact, I would take a version of every character form the A-Team, even a chia-van of some sorts would be nice.

  5. Leanne Hunt January 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Mike, I really enjoyed reading this post. I was an art student at school but have since lost most of my sight. The analogy you use is a good one because like good painting, God is more than what He appears on the surface, or in sacred texts, or even in the liturgy. Like good painting, God appeals to something so deep in us that we struggle to articulate it. And like good painting He transforms our lives. But unlike good painting, He cannot ever be traded but has to be personally experienced and known for what He is … at which point I will shut up!

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