The Jewelry Box
The Perfection of Imperfection
. . . Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack . . .The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. (2 Cor. 5:1-5, The Message)
There is a sliver of imperfection – a shard of deficiency and inadequacy embedded into every good thing on earth. The seemingly perfect things of this world are all defective in some way. The pinnacle of all that is excellent is, at best, an illusion of flawlessness. Each one carries a reality of weakness and lack, of depreciation. Over time, it will break down and need repair. Maintenance and touch-ups will be required. There will be trouble spots or tiny dents that mar shiny veneers. They will unravel and decay over time. Their limits and boundaries will be exposed bearing the frailty that may have been delicately hidden at first.
The dream house, with its polished trim and carefully laid out floor plan, will get scuffed the day you move in. The beautiful body – tall and firm and trim – will succumb to time and age and gravity. The dream man – steady, dignified and strong – will have emotional hurts, bits of baggage that’ll spill through when the right buttons are pushed. Every pleasurable thing on earth will at some point and in some way fall short. And each time it does, we are reminded that nothing – even that wonderfully, wildly, beautiful fantastical thing – can be our everything. 'Cause inevitably it will still leave you wanting and needing and thirsting for something else. It will inspire a tiny shred of frustration that will push you to want something newer, faster, better. Different.
This was God’s answer – His deliberate response to the fall in Eden. He wove imperfection into every perfection so that all the earth contains would fall just shy of pure excellence. This way it could never be confused with or exchanged for Himself. He knew then that if we found complete wholeness in it we’d no longer have the steady, clear inner longing that is meant to point us to Him.
Frustration and dissatisfaction are our guides. They grab our hands and hearts and lead us toward God and eternity. It’s the imperfection embedded within the things we enjoy that makes us long for that which only He can give . . .
. . . perfection, that actually is . . . well, perfect.
So, God tucked the gift of frailty between the folds of all we love and admire. Without it, we’d be duped and fooled – tricked into settling for far less than we were made to experience. The Christmas gifts and decoration and festivities would leave no room for Christ if there were no hiccups to contend with in the midst of the holiday season. But, as it is, we find ourselves happy but exhausted and overindulged and still in need. The twinkling lights required new bulbs, the chimney needed to be cleaned, and the tree wilts and needs to be pruned and thrown away come the new year.
And then, yes, the new year comes. Reality sets in. We find ourselves a tad saddened about the dent in the car we bought, the loose thread on the pricey clothes we unwrapped, the glitch in the cell phone we upgraded, the creaking board on the stair case we built, the character flaw in the person we married. Everywhere and in everything we will come face to face with a stark reality of infirmity. The fault that frustrates, the error that disappoints, the defect that makes us want something more will serve as a divine antagonist stirring us up and compelling us to want something else. Something more.
Something - Someone - that will not falter over time.
Imperfection ends up being a gift after all. His gift to us. It keeps us eager and hungry and waiting to be fulfilled by something that we cannot find even if we scoured the ends of the earth.
But we still can. We can spend our lives searching the highs and lows of this planet; spending more time, money, effort and energy combing through stores and sites. Or we can look up and conclude . . .
. . . that we were not made for here.
So, we stop imposing the expectation of perfection on the things and the people that were never meant to fulfill us. We release them – free them up to be what they were always meant to be – signs that point us to Jesus. When they mess up and falter and inevitably reveal their humanity, we take that as our cue to gain a new, fresh passion and heightened desire for a perfect God.
Accept and even celebrate the imperfections woven within this holiday season. Each one is His gift to you. To remind you that this earth is not your home and that He’s preparing one for you that will satisfy your every want and need . . . forever and ever.