I was sitting in church on a Sunday before Christmas just minding my business when my mind took off on a tangent I didn’t know how to get out of. It all started with Isaiah 9:6-7 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Now if you’re normal I guess your mind would go straight to Jesus and Christmas and the manger and donkeys and cows and stuff. However, if you happen to be slightly abnormal maybe your mind goes where my mind went. See I went to all my imperfections – as a Jesus follower, as a husband, as a manager, as a salesman, as a writer, as a runner and as a lover of life. But not in your usual depressing “I’m a failure” type of imperfection where I guess normal people might go. No, I went with how exciting it is that I am imperfect and how the world needs more imperfect leaders and people of influence, what a better world it would be. I see so many leaders striving to be perfect – in appearance, in speech, in the written word and other places – and I began to think about what a difference it would make if we would embrace our imperfectness (is that even a word? It has now officially become one). Let me make me case for imperfection and imperfectness (which word is correct?) and why a struggling, dis-unified world is looking for leaders and potential leaders that can embrace their imperfections yet still be real enough to be a person of influence and why it is all about this one particular passage prophesying about a coming Savior who would place an imperfect world on His shoulders and establishing a world with justice and righteousness from that time forward forever and ever. If we could all begin to embrace our imperfectness with an everlasting perfectness perhaps our world would be a better and different place.
We are all dealing with a level of imperfectness and we have all developed mechanisms to hide this imperfectness from others and sometimes like me we even think we are hiding our imperfectness from the very God we choose to worship. But what if this didn’t have to be true? What if I could be unfat and healthy again? Where would I begin if I truly wanted my internal imperfect self to be healed and restored? See I believed somewhere deep that there was an imperfect yet restored to the perfect One self somewhere deep inside of me and I was desperate to find that person because I knew that I could like and possibly even begin to love that person in his imperfectness. Yet I knew that if I just kept on doing the things I had been taught to do and expect different results that I would never ever live to see that imperfect person be restored to a point where his imperfectness could be used by a Perfect God to bring glory to God and not to that person (that will make more sense soon). So I began to deal with my imperfect self and began to bring my imperfections before God in a new and unique way for me. For me this was in running as I had never (and I do mean NEVER) liked running. I used to make fun of the faces I would see on the runners trudging along the roads I traveled. So I determined that if I wanted to see my imperfections be made whole again and useful to God that I would deal with my imperfections on the road as I ran, sweating like a fat pig, jogging slowly along the roads of life. As I went out each day and presented to God another bit of my imperfectness I noticed something…..I began to look forward to my time running because I knew it was my own little perfect sacrifice from an imperfect person to a perfect God (better than a pigeon or an ox in my mind) a little part of my imperfectness and I wasn’t asking God to heal the imperfectness but I was asking Him to do something different……I was asking Him to allow me to embrace my imperfectness and to allow that imperfectness to be used by Him. Notice here that I am not advocating for embracing your sin, the lies and the habits that destroy both you and others around you. No those need to be banned from your universe of thinking and they need to be dealt with at the altar of life and submitted as sin and they need a God sized forgiveness and a God sized healing so you can deal with the imperfectness that results or maybe even resulted in your imperfectness. There’s another little verse before the verses that line out how to choose the outwardly perfect looking leaders to lead the imperfect church that really lays this out there bold and better than I could ever write. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to buy freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.” I am a sinful man and I have sinned against the glory of God but as I ran the fat away I began to believe this verse was written just for me. Each time I would discern sin in my imperfectness I would bring it to God on my run and I would say “God here you go……here is a sin habit that I have of _______. Now as I run I ask that your son Jesus be my go between and that he begin the process of settling or bringing about a compromise between you and me so that we can once again live together in peace.” Now I know that all the theologians in the world will rip that prayer apart and quite frankly I hope they do because if anything it will show that I can only pray in my imperfect knowledge of a perfect God and what He desires for me and that is why going back to Isaiah 9:6-7 in a God government and peace and why I am willing to submit to His governance (I love the definition of governance on the UNESCO website – www.unesco.org – under their education tab where they define governance as “…the structures and processes that are designed to ensure accountability, transparency, responsiveness, rule of law, stability, equity, and inclusiveness, empowerment and broad-based participation) over my life. In other words when I accept God’s governance over my imperfectness I am allowing Him to build around me structures and processes (those are the people with whom I fellowship) that will allow my broad-based participation in ensuring that I live a life that does not allow for hidden things to remain hidden but to be brought to the surface and dealt with in a way that brings a stability and equity to my life and the life of those around me. As I did this on my runs I found myself running further and further and I found myself really looking forward to the runs with an eagerness to practice shedding the weight of the world that had so ensnared me to bad habits and bad practices that weren’t drawing me closer to God and people but were acting as a way to draw me further into myself and what I wanted out of life creating in me a critical and contrite spirit of trying to prove to others why I was good and justified in my failures of morality and thought life. See my imperfectness without God only created more imperfectness. My imperfectness with God creates a way to be transparent before God and man in a way that striving for perfection could never have accomplished.
All my thoughts of imperfectness started with a prophecy about a Savior and to think that from the time these words were uttered by Isaiah to the time that they actually came true in the birth of a Savior was 700 years or so. It shows me that what the world is desperately seeking, in all of our political turmoil and economic chaos and wars unending is some imperfect leaders who are willing to be imperfect in the midst of a perfect Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What the world is seeking and they don’t even know how to put into words is a culture and a climate that accept their imperfectness and allow their imperfectness to not disqualify them from the game of life. This is what we are all seeking and most of us don’t even realize it yet. Many people approach the season of Christmas and before they will even allow themselves to choose the Christ in Christmas or even culturally put it back into play they will angrily dismiss any word of God because an imperfect church has imperfectly loved or accepted them and because that imperfect body imperfectly accepted and loved them they can’t express faith or belief in a perfect God. So they will spend Christmas season drinking away or eating away or angering away their anger and bitterness and blame everything except the possibility that God’s plan all along may have been that He desired an imperfect body to show off his perfectness and that we as humans need to do a better job of accepting our imperfectness so the rest of the imperfect people around us can have a better shot at accepting a perfect gift of a relationship with a perfect God that loves our imperfectness.
Being able to move forward into being the you that you were created to be means that perhaps it is time to take the stone of being perfect out of the bag and leave it by the side of the trail. This will be a significant mile marker for many because it will be the day that you embrace your imperfectness and realize that you will never have it all together enough to be able to accomplish the great things that have already been laid before you.