“No! This is unacceptable!”
In his disgust my father tossed the porcelain crown onto the dental cart. It was a front tooth replacement, whose shade would be obvious to anyone looking at this woman’s smile.
“This is the third time they’ve messed up! Okay. I’ll send the exact shade sample, not just the reference number, and see if they can finally get it right.”
Some may have criticized my father for being a perfectionist. But when it came to his patients, he never cut corners. And in spite of having to wait yet another week, I know that patient was thrilled with her perfectly blended smile.
We strive for perfection. Perfect weddings seem to be worth just about any price. But over the years I’ve found weddings can be more interesting when everything doesn’t go according to plan. I’ve reassured several brides who have fretted over imperfections not to worry since no one seems to remember the perfect weddings. It’s the quirky, unplanned things that happen that make it memorable.
I remember as a teacher that I was sure I’d have the perfect class… if only I could get rid of that one annoying student. Unfortunately, even if I were so blessed with their departure, another “problem child” would pop into their place to take center stage.
There are so many other things we look for in life: the perfect company and boss to work for, the perfect employee, the perfect relationship and spouse. If only we could Photoshop our lives and airbrush away the imperfections.
It’s always easier to focus on the imperfections of others. But then I remember that the only one I can truly change is myself. That’s when I get out my resolutions. Oh, I’m not talking about those attempts to perfect my house or my looks. That’s just focusing on the external. As important as those might be, I shouldn’t be using up my bank account of hours on this earth to only address what doesn’t really matter to my Lord Jesus.
We all know what matters to Him. We all fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23). When faced with the challenges of our spiritual life, the picture of perfection quickly goes out of focus. Oh we can laugh off some of our failings. “After all, no one is perfect,” is the usual comment.
But this really isn’t a laughing matter. Our lack of living the perfect life is pretty serious. Especially when I hear my Lord Jesus say to me, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 ESV).
In the light of those words, our sinful life looms before us, the spiritual life that really matters, the life that affects all of the other aspects of our life - our families, our colleagues, our employees, our friends.
Then, to add to our failures, comes the question of our faith. Oh, to have that perfect faith, the one that never questions God, the one that has no doubts. The one that can move mountains (Matthew 17:20).
The perfect life, the perfect faith. As I heard someone say recently, “It can feel, these days, as if the horizon of perfection is ever receding.”
If I’m expecting miracles from myself in addressing these failures, I will continue to fail. But if I remember where that perfection comes from, my sorrowing heart no longer accuses me.
Because that source is my Lord Jesus. He will cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
He is the one who makes my faith strong, makes it perfect (Hebrews 12:2).
In the eyes of the world, my imperfections are still there. But those aren’t the eyes that matter. When my Lord Jesus looks at me, He sees only His forgiveness, His perfection, the perfection that was won for me on the cross. That payment for my imperfection.
When I start with myself, everything else comes into better focus. When my Lord Jesus takes hold of my life once again and works that amazing strength into my faith, it touches everything and everyone.
So, Lord Jesus, please start with me. Forgive me and purify me from all my imperfections, as You have promised. Then go beyond that and keep working that strong faith within me. Because I know you are that Great Perfecter.
When I keep my eyes fixed on you, I know all the other imperfect things in my life will fall into perspective.
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