Once upon a time, there was a colorless tiger. All his shades were greys, blacks and whites—so much so, that he seemed like something out of an old black and white movie. His lack of color had made him so famous that the world’s greatest painters came to his zoo to try to put some color on him. None of them succeeded, as the colors would always just drip down off his fur.

Then along came Van Cough the crazy painter. He was a strange guy who travelled all about, happily painting with his brush. Well, it would be more accurate to say that he moved his brush about, as if to paint, because he never put any paint on his brush, and neither did he use canvas or paper. He painted the air, and that’s why they called him Van Cough. So, when he said he wanted to paint the colorless tiger, everyone had a good laugh.

When entering the tiger’s cage, he began to whisper in the animal’s ear, and moving his dry brush up and down the tiger’s body. And to everyone’s surprise, the tiger’s fur started to take on color, and these were the most vivid colors any tiger had ever had. Van Cough spent a long time whispering to the animal and making slight adjustments to his painting. The result was truly beautiful.

Everyone wanted to know what the painter’s secret was. He explained to them that his brush was only good for painting real life, and that to do that he needed no colors. He had managed to paint the tiger using a phrase he kept whispering in its ear: “In just a few days you will be free again; you shall see.

And seeing how sad the tiger had been in his captivity, and how joyful the tiger now seemed at the prospect of freedom, the zoo authorities transported him to the forest and set him free, where never again would he lose his color.

If you are in Christ, you are free. Do you live that out? Are there color and joy in your life because of your freedom, or does the Americanized idea freedom suck the spectrum of colors right out of you? Could God’s idea of freedom be different from ours? Perhaps, as some suggest, we only want freedom FROM things (work, pain, boredom, failure, guilt), but God’s freedom is always FOR something. What’s your freedom in Jesus for?

Let’s talk on Sunday. The Gospel gives us a freedom FOR and not just FROM. And with the Gospel, the Painter whispers into our ears, “You can be free indeed… free at last… Thank God Almighty; you’re free at last!”

See you at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. as we gather on Sunday.

Blessings y’all,

Alan

* Colorless Tiger story by Pedro Pablo Sacristan.

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