The impossible quest
I get angry at him, oh, so frequently. I have worked on him; punishing, lecturing, praying, cajoling, encouraging and yet I can never seem to fully achieve my desired results with him.
No, he is not a monster, but he certainly is imperfect. And that imperfection gnaws at me, kidnaps my thoughts; I take it intensely personal.
I suppose I should, for he is me.
Growing up I always assumed men of God had everything together, and thus were free to spend all their time straightening out others. They were the perfect husbands, the perfect fathers, the perfect preachers, the perfect friends. I suppose I should have paid more attention as I read my Bible; men like Peter and Elijah and Moses were certainly not perfect, so how could I expect lesser men to be so?
It may sound unrealistic, but I really do want to be perfect. I simply hate it when my words do not come out right, or when I forget something I was supposed to be doing for someone, or when I unintentionally hurt someone.
Yes, I know that absolutely everyone does every single one of those things, but I want to be the one who doesn’t. I want every column to be perfectly thought out, with both the right facts and the right spirit. I want every message I preach to be accurate, powerful and compassionate. I want to always be everything my family and my church members need me to be.
And yet, despite my desire and my best efforts, logic and a good study of Scripture tells me I will never fully achieve my desires. The great apostle Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”
For all of us, man of God or man of factory or woman of politics or whatever gender and whatever role, there will somehow have to be a balance struck if we are going to survive. Yes, we surely must do our best at absolutely all times.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
Anything less than our best effort dishonors the Lord. The other side of that equation, the thing that gives the balance we need, is a realization of what we are, and also an understanding of the opportunity it affords us. By what we are, I am hearkening back to the truth of Psalm 103:14, which says, “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”
As creatures of dust, and fallen creatures at that, we will not be perfect, it is impossible. Strive for it, yes, but only because the higher you aim, the better you do. If God knows our frame, if he does not expect perfection from us, then we are free to not pressure ourselves by demanding more of us that he does.
By the opportunity it affords us, I am thinking of what our imperfection allows us to do that perfection never could; lean on the Lord, make things right, and try again. Our imperfections allow us to say words like “I am sorry” and “I was wrong” and “Would you please forgive me?” It makes us accessible. It shows humility. It turns a negative into a positive.
So do yourself a favor; lighten up. Do your best, yes. But when you fail, rather than beating yourself to death over it, make it right, brush yourself off, and try again. And it may just be that one day you are able to return the favor by reminding me of the exact same thing.