We have a love-hate relationship with perfection.
- The image of God in us longs for perfection, seeking symmetry in all things, seen and unseen, awestruck when we find it and perplexed when we expect it and don’t get it.
- The fallen humanity part of us suspects the whole business of perfection, thinking it impossible in the first place and an illusion in the final analysis, a shimmering mirage of no material substance and no real use.
Despite our suspicions, we demonstrate a constant search for perfection. We want to
- look at perfect faces,
- hear the perfect music,
- experience the ideal of any concept,
- enjoy mutually fulfilling relationships all around, and
- “Chamber of Commerce” weather every day.
Despite our expectations, we take what we can get from life and perfection is seldom in the hand we are dealt.
A Battle for Dominance
These two things, the inborn need and the acquired realistic outlook, battle for dominance in our thinking. In some things we accept the imperfect as the reality we can do nothing about. We pray with the alcoholic, “Lord help me accept the things I cannot change…” This is wise and it is the path of peace.
But it can be an uneasy peace, far from perfect. The unpleasant, unchanged things in life do not go away just because we are at peace with them. The deep conviction, born in the clay of Eden when God fashioned Adam and Eve by hand and breathed into them the breath of life, will sometimes fail to accept the imperfect. Something must be done, flaws identified, solutions found, and corrections made. There is a standard of excellence and a vision of perfection that form the true measure of greatness.
The Life of Adventure
A life crammed packed with the mediocre and mundane may be an efficient and peaceful one but we know there is more to life than comfort and predictability.
- There is adventure and discovery and creativity and, dare I say it, perfection “out there” waiting for someone to make the journey and, “in here” waiting for someone to dig it out.
- As we long for perfection, we cannot bear the perfectionist, the one who is never pleased, even with excellence. This one is a different kind of bore and an imperfect companion.
So where can we turn to slake our thirst for perfection?
The Psalmist gives us the obvious answer: Only God is perfect.
“From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.”
Divine perfection is beyond our understanding and stubbornly refuses to yield to our logic. God’s perfect ways are “past finding out;” case closed. But the perfections we can see: stars and sky, sun and sea, mountain and mole hill,satisfy us and leave us speechless except for that angelic confession—“Holy, holy, holy.”
With this revelation of perfection, excited hearts can rest, inquiring minds can fall silent, and the spirit within each of us can find its home.
Psalm 50:1 NIV
The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.
Deuteronomy 32:3-4 NIV
I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
Psalm 18:30-32 NIV
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
James 1:17 NIV
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Isaiah 26:3 NIV
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
Romans 11:33; Isa 55:8-9 NKJV
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 6:3-4 Rev 4:8;
And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
Lord Jesus, only in You does my soul come to rest. You are the end of all my quests, the answer to all my questions, the object of my artistic eye. Though centuries of sin have marred Your creation, I can see the perfection of “in the beginning.” Lord, once in a while You help me bring something new into this world. While my work is far from perfect, there is sometimes a glimmer or Your perfection there. After all, You made me in Your image. You put creativity in me as well as this deep appreciation of perfection. Help me take joy in my work but to always look to You for perfection—“Holy, holy, holy!” Amen.
Holy, Holy, Holy
Words: Reginald Heber, 1826; Music: John B. Dykes
1.Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!
2.Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.
3.Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.
4.Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name,
in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved