I am a perfectionist. And, as a perfectionist, I often fall into the trap of believing that what I do or what I give must be perfect--or very close to perfect--before it is of any value.
If I give of my time to someone, I want to be able to give a lot of it; what good is a half-hour?
If I write a book or a story or a blog post or a poem, I want every word to be in place before I share it; what can someone gain from an imperfect thought?
If I write a letter, it must be an "epic tome"; who would be encouraged by a short note?
I am sure that, by now, you are snickering in your sleeve because you see the ridiculousness of my viewpoint. There are half-hours of your life that you hold more precious than entire weeks of your life. There are imperfect books and blog posts that you have drawn much encouragement from. There are brief notes that have been more valuable to you than lengthy e-mails.
You have been blessed--and you have blessed others--through the sharing of genuine love, however imperfect. You know the value of the imperfect things. But often, we forget to apply this principle to our relationship with God.
God's standard is perfection.
My strong desire to give God only my best can never be completely fulfilled. I simply can't do it. He's perfect; we're not. Whatever we do falls utterly short of the mark.
Put simply, in our aim for perfection, we fail miserably. And we always will.
This is difficult for many of us to accept. We long to please God, yet we know it's impossible. Trying a little harder to manufacture more faith, to consistently obey, to grow in wisdom, to behave as God expects us to behave--no matter how hard we try, we always fail.
So what do we do when the best that God requires is impossible to give?
We Trust in God's love.
Our God is not an angry God. He is not a frustrated God. He is not a disappointed God.
He is not (as some of us feel) trying to teach toddlers the finer points of quantum physics and expecting them to get it.
He knows that our default setting is failure and imperfection. It was because of that, not in spite of it, that He gave up His most valuable treasure and caused Himself pain. It was because He loves us.
God accepts imperfect gifts.
When a child brings a crumpled, wilted flower to his mother, does she care for the flower? No. She cares for the heart behind it. The flower itself is useless and will fade. The heart--that is the real treasure. And it is the heart--flawed and fickle as it is--that God sees when we offer our gifts.
Let's see what God does when someone brings a gift, knowing its imperfections. Bear in mind, as you read this passage, that God had specific rules in the law for cleansing, for when the Passover should be kept, for who should do what, and more.
Selections from 2 Chronicles chapter 30
This is the kind of God we serve. Hezekiah acknowledged that the people could not keep the Passover in the way that God specifically instructed. But was exact obedience the most important thing to God? No. Despite imperfect obedience and ability, the heart that genuinely desired Him was far, far more precious than anything else.
Do you desire Him? Then do not fear. Your imperfect gifts have already been accepted.
2 Corinthians 8:12
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.