Searching for Perfection
This week I’ve had the blessing of spending some special time with my family at the beach. Since home to me has always been in the mountains, vacation time is typically spent somewhere near the ocean. While a week at the beach can be fully spent walking along the beach, playing in the ocean or pool, or lounging lazily in a beach chair listening to the sea gulls; I generally always have a plan for something extra to do. It may be visiting a museum or historic site, taking some kind of tour or sightseeing excursion, or just doing something we don’t normally get to do.
One of this year’s extras was a morning hike on Bird Island Coastal Reserve, an uninhabited island that extends around one and one-half miles on the coast of North Carolina to a rock jetty that divides North and South Carolina. The island is absolutely beautiful with high natural dunes; salt marshes and tidal creeks; a gorgeous stretch of pristine, sandy white beaches; and a variety of habitats and nesting areas for a variety of birds, some of which are threatened or endangered. I couldn’t wait to embark on this little adventure, especially when I discovered that it was not uncommon to find loads of sand dollars, many completely perfect.
I began this hike, eager and excited, as well as equipped with a small bag to gather all my perfect sand dollars. As I inched my way along the shore, I saw many, many sand dollar pieces – many broken, chipped, and scarred, but not one perfect sand dollar. My little bag remained rolled up in my backpack as I gradually gave up and instead just drank in the beauty of the untouched island.
When we finally reached the rock jetty at the end of the island, however, I discovered that both my daughters had picked up a few of the broken sand dollar pieces, and my daughter-in-law had a bag full of shell and sand dollar pieces. While no one had uncovered a perfect sand dollar, my daughter-in-law was excited about how she could use the broken pieces to create something beautiful, perhaps a mosaic. I was looking for perfection while my daughter-in-law was looking for ways to make the broken shells into something beautiful. And I thought of God!
Isn’t that the way God is with you and me? We are all broken. None of us are perfect. We are all broken, chipped, and scarred – in one way or another. Some of us try to ignore our brokenness. Others of us try to overcompensate for it. Still others may try to hide their imperfections, justify them, or make excuses for them. But there is only one thing to really do with our brokenness – turn it over to God.
Luke recounts the story of a broken woman in Luke 8:43-48. This dear woman had endured a flow of blood for 12 years. The Scriptures tell us that she had spent all she had on doctors who had not been able to help her. But then she heard of Jesus. Luke tells it best.
“Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, 44 came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.
45 And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?”
46 But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.”47 Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.
48 And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer;[h] your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
Notice three things about this story.
- The woman was at the end of her resources as well as her strength.
- She reached out for Jesus.
- Jesus encouraged her and reminded her that her faith had made her well.
Jesus is the cure for our brokenness. As we surrender all of our chips, scars, hurts, anxieties, and brokenness to Him, He is there ready to meet us where we are and work in and through us to fulfill His plan for our lives. As Paul reminded the Philippians: “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” (Philippians 1:6). Christ’s work in us may not always mean physical healing like the woman in the story. It may not always mean a miraculous change in our circumstances or instant solutions to our chips and scars. But we can be assured that our faith will make us well as we surrender to Christ and allow Him to complete His work in us. The beauty He creates will take all those broken, chipped, and scarred areas and blend them together into a beautiful whole that more nearly reflects the One in whom we trust, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I’m thankful that God doesn’t give up on us just because we are not perfect. I’m glad that He desires to draw us to Him, to smooth out all of our rough edges, to heal us and help us to become the man or woman He created us to be. And just as I look forward to seeing the mosaic that my daughter-in-law hopes to create from a collection of broken and chipped sand dollars, I look forward to one day being able to behold how God used all my chips, scars, and broken edges to create a mosaic that He can use to help others see the beauty and perfection of His dear Son.