Perfection Himself

I used to strive for perfection this time of year. I remember hanging the Christmas hand- towels in the guest bathroom; folding and aligning them so that they were exactly even took me much longer than it ever should have. I remember shopping for the perfect ribbon, and then carefully trying to tie it into the perfect bow. And then there was the Christmas tree. My children can testify to how annoying I was about the tree. I looked at tree after tree, spun them around making sure they were symmetrical with no obvious bald spots or, heaven forbid, a crooked trunk.

 I don’t know when I started to let go of that quest for perfection. Maybe it began the year I lost my middle son in the mall after getting his hair cut so he would look his best for Christmas. That was the same year I almost set the house on fire when I pre-heated the oven and forgot I had stored a Costco sized box of potato chips in it. My family was due to arrive in minutes, I had a house full of black smoke, my kids gathered outside under the “meet here in case of emergency” tree and I was half dressed, hair askew as I ran around in small panicked circles. We ordered pizza that year. And we showed up to Christmas Eve service, my entire family, smelling of burnt plastic. Fire and Brimstone took on a whole new meaning to whoever sat near us that night.

It may have been that year of chaotic imperfection or it may just be a wonderful byproduct of walking longer with Christ, but I have let go of the need for perfection and actually started to embrace imperfection. My Christmas trees the last few years have had bald spots, and they have been just the slightest bit uneven in distribution of limbs. My light-up yard snowman was recently delivered with a rip on one side. I thought about returning it, and then decided to keep it, not despite the rip, but because of it. My new love of imperfection is why that hippo ornament, which is way too big to be on the branch my son chose to hang it on, is going to stay right where it is. All these little pieces of imperfection, that in the past would have truly bothered me, are now the very things that make Christmas even more beautiful to me. I look for imperfection, and I am beginning to even treasure it. Evidence of imperfection reminds me why the birth of Christ was necessary in the first place. It reminds me why I need Jesus so very desperately.

Christ didn’t come for the perfect, He came for the imperfect. He came for the broken- hearted, he came for the ugly, the twisted, the crooked and the sin-filled. As I look at my imperfections, I am so grateful he came and that he He carried all that imperfection, the sin and disgrace, to Calvary.

Perfection Himself was born into our mess.

Perfection Himself lived and walked among us and never once sinned.

Perfection Himself was nailed to a crooked and rough tree.

Perfection Himself defeated sin and death.

Perfection Himself will come again and bring us to our Perfect and Forever Home. Praise Him!

                                    O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.

Till He appeared and the Soul felt it’s worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

O night divine!

Don’t Be Afraid

I  hadn’t thought of that old row boat for years. When my dad bought it, I imagine he pictured warm afternoons out on the water enjoying some peace and solitude. He probably saw himself rowing out on the lake, dropping a line in the water and bringing in a great big fish. As he pondered the purchase, did he hear the sounds of a fishing rod being cast and reeled in? The sound of a fish flopping against the metal bottom of the boat?
I somehow doubt he was able to picture what a little girl could do with a rowboat, the potential for fun she would see in it. Like turning it into a backyard swimming pool. I remember so clearly the summer afternoons I did just that. I clearly recall  the rubber stopper that plugged the drainage hole on the side of the boat, it had a little gold chain attached to it.  I would make sure that the stopper was firmly in place, then drag the hose over and fill that boat to the brim. Then my Barbies, a whole lot of other water toys and I went into the “pool.” I think I even invited friends over to “swim” in the boat.
I found myself thinking of that old row boat the other day. I was out walking and got caught in a downpour. I was soaked to the skin within minutes,  with wet hair hanging in my face and my hems dragging with the weight of water. It reminded me of a day spent in the little rowboat. My dad had taken my sisters and I out for a day of fishing. I don’t know if rain had been predicted or if the storm blew in unexpectedly but it caught us out in the middle of the lake. This wasn’t a gentle summer rain, this was a deluge of water falling from the dark sky, which was also crackling with thunder and flashing with lightning. I remember my dad moving quickly, rowing furiously, trying to get us to shore. He knew what I didn’t know at that age, that being in a metal row boat in the middle of the water with a sky full of lightning isn’t the best idea. His memory of that day is probably very different than mine.
Do you know what I remember? Laughter. I remember my sisters and I bailing water with little Dixie cups and I remember lifting my face to the sky as the drops fell and just laughing. What I don’t remember is being afraid.
I was with my dad. So far, he had never let me down. It didn’t even enter my mind that he didn’t have things under control or that he couldn’t keep me and my sisters safe. I trusted him completely so I was able to laugh in the summer rain.
I’m so grateful that memory surfaced as I walked in the rain a few days ago. It turned a gloomy day into a holy moment as I asked God to help me to trust him that same way. When the storms of life come, when thunder booms and lightning splits my world,  I don’t want to be afraid. I want to know my Father has things under control, I want to trust His amazing love for me. I want to do my part, even if my efforts seem puny and ridiculous.
But then I want to lift my face to the heavens, trusting the Father who has never ever once let me down, and laugh.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He made the storm be still,
    and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
    and praise him in the assembly of the elders.  Psalm 107:28-32 
Cyndi Word