It was the early hours of the morning as I stumbled into the kitchen fumbling along the inside of the fridge door looking for cold water.
‘You have black perfection.’
With the bottle suspended at a forty-five-degree angle and a mouth full of water half swallowed (yes I was drinking straight from the bottle…), I sheepishly asked: ‘Pardon?’ You have black perfection. You cannot know what perfection is, so your striving for it, is for naught.’ It was God.
Blinking, I slowly placed the water bottle back as though someone stood behind me with a Magnum forty-five. I stood stock still and waited for more. I heard no more but a knowing filled my spirit. I knew that the context that God had spoken into my life was one of deep and profound disappointment. I had recently married after having fallen pregnant for the second time out of wedlock, and had done so as a believer. My husband at the time had been disowned by his family for marrying me and we had no money to speak of. Though forgiven, in my mind, I existed as a profound let down to God. My faith in Him was to make it up to Him. It seemed that I had an idea of what a perfect Christian looked like and unfortunately measured up so poorly that I certainly had a huge amount of work to do. Now some of you are probably thinking, ‘well falling pregnant unmarried twice is a bit more than simply ‘missing’ the perfect mark … it’s more like a hundred-pound man trying to dive from the high jump only to redden his entire torso with the profound smack his belly flop inflicted.’ Either way, I had spent a life thinking God wanted perfection and since I had recommitted my life to Christ three years prior, had tried with less than suitable results.
The thing is that every one of us are the hundred pounders performing aerial hippo dances and pool emptying landings. We are all so short of perfection that to assume we even know what it is, is arrogant. How could I assume what perfection was, let alone pursue it?
In essence God was speaking kindly to me. He was saying, ‘Bern, even though the wedding dress was a milder version of a shiny tent; even though the honeymoon wooden but was more of a splint fest than a love fest and you wonder if there is still a destiny… there is a way out and it is not through perfection. It is the way of love.’ God was wanting me to see that Christianity, that my walk with Him, was not about attaining perfection but it was to be loved by Him, to love Him and to love others. My experience of Jesus’s exchange on the cross while on earth, while trapped in this body, while trapped in a fallen world would be His love.
1 Corinthians 13 v 4 — 8
“Love suffers long and is kind” — God is patient with us and kind to us. Do you know this? Do I know this? So, when the child mistakenly spills ice cream all over your new couch, don’t scream and shout. Simply take their hand and look into their tear filled eyes (because they heard you say fifteen times that you love your NEW couch and could not bear for anything to spill on it) and say ‘it’s okay’ and wipe it off quickly …especially if you did not scotch guard the couch (a colossal lack of insight on your part).
“Love does not envy” — God’s love celebrates you uniquely so instead of wanting what ‘they’ve’ got, rather think about what you have to give. Let this heal the malaise of comparison.
“Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up” — Jesus did not rock up in your dreams sporting a convoluted, dry British accent, ‘Behold perfection, doth approach earthling …’. Rather he looked at you through the blood spilling over his eyes and said ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do’.
“Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked” – God loves you because He loves you. Love others because you love others. It doesn’t matter if they don’t deserve it. Do you deserve it? No, so cut the taxi some slack and you know what, deliver flowers to your mother-in-law anyway …
“Love thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” – God’s thoughts toward you are pure. He is looking for the best. He believes the best of you. He is not cynical and mistrusting. Perhaps be the one who refuses to believe and propagate the gossip. Though you don’t compromise, be the one who sees potential and cultivates it.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” — I know this well. God did not and would not give up on me. He chose me as a little girl and though I ran, hid, broke and wandered, He refused to believe anything else but the power of love. Never give up loving the lost. Never give up loving the backslidden. Never give up loving. “Love never fails.”
Love is the closest you will get to perfection so rest lovers of God. Be loved and love others and when you fail. Be loved.