My house is in shambles. My life doesn’t seem too far behind it, some days. Boxes of Christmas ornaments sit in the hall, not yet put in the top of the closet, hiding the box of nameless stuff I shoved into the hall and out of the den Christmas Eve, so we could have room to sit down and watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. When trying to put away my daughter’s clothes in her drawer, I discovered the reason why her winter clothes have looked so squashed and wrinkly: I neglected to remove the summer/early fall clothes when the weather got cold. In October. Then, since the New Year I’ve had sick kids, then I got a virus myself. And that’s about the time the “All the barely-kept-spinning-in-the-air-plate-trick” I call my life at this season, began to crash down. Blech. The never picture perfect life became less embarrassing and more unbearable.
To escape the intolerable of the moment, I read Ann’s post, or her guest’s post, and stop at a line :
and I laugh a soft Sarah-laugh of disbelief in my undeniably never picture perfect house, at the improbability of me being perfect. Right. The piles of ungraded school papers, half-finished projects, hot wheel ramp built of carpet squares and blocks, the yet-to-be finished box of sweet potatoes from last year’s garden litter my house is perfect? The mess that is me, still with a sore throat and head ache and too tired to take the kids’ suitcases from last weekend’s trip to the grandparents house back to the attic. The pushed-to-the edge of homeschooling all week, then spending my Sabbath working a 12-hour shift at the hospital, then getting the kids up and ready by myself while my husband is at another church as a regular on their worship team. I’m tired and my imperfections are magnified by the exhaustion. But
something Someone prompts me to look up the verse Ann’s friend refers to, so I do.
“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14
Not feeling perfect around here. Not even close. Saved, yes. Got that. But not perfected forever; I mean, especially not now, not here, in this life. But it says I am perfected forever–now, already. What on earth does that mean? As a character from one of my favorite movies says “You keep on saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Sigh. O.K. So it doesn’t mean what my vision of perfect on this world looks like: that perfect would be me with a perpetually clean home and a working fireplace, no library fines, children who cheerfully do their work and don’t fight amongst themselves and never say “Me first!” Perfect would be me, effortlessly 40 pounds lighter with hair that isn’t graying and slightly fuzzy from the perpetual Southern humidity; serene regardless of the situation, knowing what to say and how to say it kindly to those around me–that perfection that I wish was me. These visions of domestic and personal perfection are NOT what perfect means. And that’s just on the outside of me.
Perfect means sinless, right? I mean, that’s what I’ve been told. Without blemish, a perfect spotless lamb for the sacrifice. That was perfect. When I get impatient with my children’s bickering and yell at them, or feel hurt by the person who will not return my email or bitter or cross and want to tell that person on Facebook just what I really think about their stupid idea, well, that’s not so perfect. Are these the same perfect? Am I missing something here? Surely I am. Not feeling close to perfect in any way, form, or fashion, I try the Strong’s Concordance that is free, online and can help a non-Greek speaking girl like me out with this tangle of meanings.
Hmmm… to make perfect (not helpful); to accomplish; to complete. When we are perfected, can you say, completed? Can I substitute complete in this sentence and not change the meaning? I am not perfect in that I am not without sin or always have “good hair days,” but I am complete. I am complete in that once I have “been saved” through the sacrifice of a perfect High Priest (Jesus) and Holy Spirit lives in me, then “I AM”– the Shepherd, the Bread of Life, the Living Water, Jehovah Jireh (God Provides), Jehovah Nissi (God is my banner), Jehovah Rapha (God is my Healer), is in me. Living in me, this cracked jar of clay, so inadequate in my eyes, to contain the Pearl of Great Price who is creator of the Universe. What does that even look like? Utter perfection contained in an utter mess?
If He is in me, then I am complete, because in my weakness He is made strong. In any weakness in me or situation I come up against, He is there and another facet of “I am” is waiting to be revealed. So, whether God leads me to a place where I’m caught between the Dead Sea and the raging Egyptian army hell-bent on recapturing its slaves, or if I’m following the cloud by day and the fire by night into the desert with bitter water and no provisions, or if I’m about to get to Mt. Sinai, but first I have to cross the Valley of Sin (“Place of Rest” in Hebrew) that’s full of enemy Amalekites just waiting for a fight, I can rest in the thought and knowledge that He brought me to this difficult place and because of my relationship with Him, I do not have to be afraid of the inevitable failure that would occur–without His presence in my life.
I am complete, because He is in me and with me and will reveal that perfect, amazing facet of Himself that I need in my situation, all to His glory! And when He leads me into situations that are impossible for me to navigate or fix on my own (that would be pretty much all of them), I cry out to Him in faith that He will answer. And He will. He does.
Second Corinthians 1:10 says all the promises of God are “yes and amen.” Either they are or they aren’t. I choose to believe He wants to fulfill His promises and this is what He said: “I will never leave you or forsake you” and
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
He promises the Holy Spirit is in me and will teach me all things. And He gives not as the world gives. He gives freely, without selfish motive. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Paraclete will joyfully teach and reveal what I need to know of God and will provide what I need. His perfect love casts out the fear of my inadequacies rendering it impossible for me to make the impossible/unlikely/unattainable/unfeasible possible. I don’t have to. I don’t have to fix it, whatever “it” is. My job is to “be still and know ‘I AM'”, and wait on the LORD to reveal Himself to me.
Every crack and crevice and jagged spot is full to bursting with His perfection, His “I am”-ness if I can say that. Those cracks and holes in this life-jar, are actually opportunities for Him to shine through, if I let Him. Those places of inadequacy in my life, those hard situations that are so obvious to everyone that there’s no way I can fix, well those are the times when His nature of power and love shine through, ’cause everyone knows that’s not me–it has to be Jesus in me. He can either heal the breaks or remove the thorns in my flesh for His glory, or He can leave them for His glory to shine through. His perfection completes me.