Still Not Perfect, But Oh So Loved

I have spent my whole life trying to be good.

When I was a little girl I would lie in the dark each night and tell God all the things I had done that I thought I shouldn't have, then I would ask Him to make me a better person the next day. 

Each night I would ask the same thing. Make me better. Make me better. Please.

It wasn’t until I was an adult and actually read the bible that I began to grasp the problem. Sin. It was there and always would be. 

I spent a season in my twenties wrestling with God about the verse “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) 

It seemed downright mean. On the one hand I knew I couldn’t be perfect because of sin, but on the other I was being told I should be? It didn’t make sense, it frustrated me, and honestly, made me a little angry. So I argued with God.

I have never felt squashed when I have wrestled with God. I feel no condemnation, and don’t feel dismissed, even though I imagine my questions and strugglings are ridiculously small.

I know in my core that God gave me my intellect to be used.  After all, He says "Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18a). I can’t say I'll ever fully understand Matthew 5:48, but I believe God has helped me to grasp some of it.  

Jesus is perfect, and when I am hidden in Him, I am covered by His perfection. My spiritual self, my eternal self, is abiding and hidden in Christ.

But my earthly self, the girl stuck on soil, needs to know what to do. God's perfection is what I try to walk toward in my daily life (I won't get there)… and really, what that means is that I am walking toward Jesus, toward being more like Him.

It’s always all about Jesus, isn’t it?

Funny how we can know something but our actions don’t show it. I knew that spiritually I was hidden in Christ. But every day I was sweating and striving. I was exhausted from striving.

Yep, I know all about grace, but clearly I have a very hard time accepting it. 

I am forty seven years old now. I am no longer the nine year old who lay in bed asking God: Please make me better. 

Now I am asking Him: Please make me more like You. Open my eyes to the need. Help me to bless someone. Forgive me for being selfish.

And I still struggle with trying to live the Christian life in my own strength. I still fall asleep determined to do better the next day. Because let’s be honest: to walk the dying-to-self road can be painful and hard and sometimes just plain lonely.

I have experienced the trouble with trying to soldier through, head down and focused. When the slightest twist in the road comes, I get completely off course. Fists clenched, determined to walk the path I think I should as a loving daughter of her Heavenly Father, I suddenly find that in my haste and determination I am slogging through a muddy ditch because I was so set on my direction, I didn’t see the road veer off.

Ugh. Here we go again.

I am slowly accepting my desperate need for God’s grace, not just in theory, but in practice. No amount of determination will change the fact that I still have the heart of a little girl. I need to be able to rest in my Father’s lap and be held by His arms. Not for any reason other than that laps are where little girls belong.

We have had a hard few years in our family. And most of the things I wanted to do for God, the plans I had for how I was going to use the gifts He has given me… most of those things have not gotten done. So on top of the pain I was working through because of those hard years, I felt a heavy burden of guilt. I felt like I had failed the One Who never fails me.

He is such a good, good Father. When I took the time to stop scurrying, to be still and ask Him to show me what He wanted from me, He poured out nothing but love and grace over me - even though I had not done all those things I was so sure I had to do to please Him. I didn’t finish any of the books I had started writing, I didn’t blog here or on our other blog, all I did was survive, and try my best to love the people right in front of me each moment.

What I want more than anything is to please Him. Like a little girl helping her Daddy paint a wall and getting paint all over the floor, I want to do the things that make Him proud of me, yet I mess up. Over and over I can’t paint that wall perfectly.

Here God, let me help You with that...

And He bends down and strokes my hair, sees my heart and says “I love the wall. I love that you want to help. I love you."

My tender Father.

It is time to add one more thing to my night whispers: Please help me to accept Your grace, Abba.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Patti, I love this. I can relate to the exhaustion of trying to walk my life out perfectly only to fall flat on my face. That last line? That's what it's all about, isn't it. His grace is sufficient.


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