by Kim Longden
About a year ago, I reluctantly signed up to go to a Visual Faith™ presentation at our church. I was there to support friends who had coordinated the event, and because my oldest daughter wanted to go. For their sake I decided I could spend a Saturday morning doing what I thought would be mostly learning some coloring techniques… although in my mind I chuckled at the thought of all the adult coloring books I had laying around untouched. Coloring was an activity this momma-of-six did not often have time for!
When the day of the presentation arrived, I was a little bit down-trodden for a variety of reasons. Not only did we have a lot of challenging things going on in our life at that point, but I had also strayed away from my personal Bible study and prayer time over the previous several months. I had a five-month-old baby and was just starting to come off of that challenging season of new-babyness and was feeling disconnected from God and overall tired and weary. Coloring was the last thing I felt like doing that day.
I was surprised when Valerie Matyas, our Visual Faith™ Coach, started the presentation not with coloring at all, but rather with talking about the blessings of prayer as a connection with Jesus. In fact, the first part of our session was about different ways to pray using Visual Faith tools. She obviously loved to pray and her delight was contagious; there was also a reverence for the Word and prayer that drew us all in.
She first told us about the Secret Code Prayer and I found myself right then and there pouring out to Jesus how much I missed Him, how these seasons of having a young baby and not having the freedom to steal away and spend time with Him were always so difficult. I filled up all those tiny squares with my laments and noticed how, even though I was in a room full of people, this method of praying was so intimate and personal—and confidential—just between me and God. My burden was starting to lift.
Next, we learned the Stained Glass Prayer technique where I was able to bring all of the petitions about each of my family members (and there’s a lot of ‘em!) before God in a way that allowed me to really focus on each person, each issue, and then leave them at Jesus’ feet. My son’s confirmation the next day, my daughter’s heart doctor appointment the following week, all of the household changes that a new baby brings… So many things that had been a jumbled mess of worry came out and were laid down one by one. More burdens lifted.
Valerie prayed us into each segment and prayed over us as we finished up. It was a very deep and spiritual time. It was just what I needed. That day, Jesus invited me back into a close relationship with Him. I love how He takes even our reluctant steps and multiplies them in such unexpected ways. I love how He always invites us back.
I could go on and on about all of the opportunities for connections with Jesus we were presented with that day. We learned about making prayer cards for people, and Bible verse cards as snapshots of our time with Jesus. We were shown how to fill in calendars chronicling each day spent in the Portals of Prayer devotional—which, by the way, introduced me to a resource our church had offered for years that I had never used before, and now love!
And yes, there WAS coloring! There was a lot of coloring and creating—and Washi tape! But for the first time I saw the potential for a deeper meditation on God’s Word in the coloring, and a potential for the delight of spending time with the Spirit in the creativity. I was given permission to take the time to color and create AND go deep and connect with Jesus, all at the same time.
Little did I know that this presentation was just the tip of the iceberg of the blessing that is Visual Faith™ Ministry. The wealth of free resources on the Visual Faith website has since been incorporated into our everyday life. We mailed printable prayer cards to people during the COVID quarantine. We went through When from Death I’m Free: A Hymn Journal for Holy Week as a family; we colored and hung up Lent and Easter art which helped us walk through the challenging Lent season spent in our time of isolation at home. I find myself regularly poking around on the website delighting in the artists’ depictions of so many of my favorite Bible verses. I have a folder of these verses printed and at the ready for the kids and I to color and meditate on as the Spirit moves. Spending time with these illustrations makes me love God’s Word even more!
So, now I always tell people about how the day I thought I was going to learn to “color better” was the day that Jesus opened up doors of new ways to connect with Him—and also with my family (my oldest daughter especially—this is a great thing for us to do together!), with friends, and with many others.
What a creative and awesome God we serve!