Saturday, February 22, 2014


Last Halloween, my sister asked me to braid her hair for her "dark elf warrior" costume.  Since I braid at the local renaissance festival, her request (though unique and elaborate) was well within my bag of tricks:   "Something like Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, but bunned up, and with rope twists.  Oh, and with accents in the front to hide the seam for my elf ears."

Sure.  As long as we're keeping it simple.

But I knew she was looking ahead to a costume contest later that night, and I was happy to oblige.  After all, braiding is fun for me, and she has great hair for it.  I put my practiced fingers to the task and created a masterpiece.  And just as I placed the last touch and stepped back to admire the finished product, my sister said, "Ok.  Now you can paint it."

Huh?  I didn't see that coming.  But with great reservation, I did just that.

With each dab of paint, my beautiful braid lost some of its luster. The paint highlighted every stray hair.  Suddenly, an artsy, loose bun just looked messy and unkempt.  It was hard to get the paint into every nook and cranny made by the weave, so it started to look incomplete and unfinished.

At least to my eye.

She loved it.  In fact, she went on to win the costume contest that night.

And while I was happy for her, a part of me was sad that that was the version of the braid other people saw. Even though they thought it was awesome.

For some reason, it got me thinking about church and the gospel.  (Perhaps a little ironic on Halloween night, but there you go.) How hard to we try to dress up God's message when all we need is his truth?  Trying to make it cooler or more relevant or whatever?  Maybe my thoughts went that way because I tend to think in analogies, and no matter how strong or powerful an analogy is...there will always be holes.  And I've been in the church world long enough to see programs try to capitalize on different fads and trends in order to best win the attention and affection of their audience.

I wonder if his truth is like that braid.  If painting it up just makes it messy, or just diminishes the glory of what he originally had in mind?  Are we losing the depth of the message by painting it into a corner or costuming it up?

God with us.
It is finished.
Come to me and I will give you rest.

That's it.  Plain and simple.

I don't know if that makes sense. But it challenged me to just be God’s love in action and let the beautiful power of the Gospel speak for itself.

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