Tuesday, April 9, 2013

If You Long to be a Perfect Christ-Follower

"What are you doing, Mom?"

Her crayon is suspended mid-air. She's been watching me, filling these notebooks full of black ink to define all these frustrated words. Black and white. That's how I prefer things. Simple, and understandable, with expected, learned curves and lots of straight lines.

I loosen my grip on the pen. "I'm writing stories for you." I look into all her uncontainable, never-seen-on-this-earth-before beauty. All this life blooming and colorful and anything but predictable.

She smiles and draws out a bright green in long, sweeping arches. Her color doesn't stop entirely at the bold, pre-set lines and this girl has blurred all the edges of my nice, neat assumptions and models for me that what I may tend to call imperfect can be beautiful, too. She has let me know I really limit the art when I demand everything to be within the pre-set lines.

She picks up a pupleish-blue and looks up at me without slowing down her flying comet-hand, meteors of colored wax landing across her creation. "I like stories. What is it about? Can I hear it?"

I look down at my own scrawling and sigh at the blurriness of it all. I want her to know the Truth and we all meet Him in story and I am trying to paint a glimpse of Him but it is shaping up to such a dim reflection. All that Life and color and anything but predictable Glory who came to draw lines in the sand and never ones that were expected. How do you clearly describe One who all the books in all the world could not contain?

"I'm writing a series of children's stories about our emotions. This one I'm working on now is about anger. I think I'm going to title it: Even God Gets Angry."

She stops and considers, searching my face and the depths of her own infinite seven-year-old wisdom. "Good. I like it. And that's true. God does get angry about things too. What matters is why we are angry and what we do with our anger." She slides over a fresh sheet of clean white and begins to make her mark. "So will you read it to me?"

I smile and glance down at all my black on white. I wonder if maybe I should just let her write this story. Quick, pharisee-like judgement and strict rules and unbending definitions come so much easier to me than discernment and learning and living out all that childlike wisdom.

"Not just yet. I've got a few things I need to work out first. It's about a girl who is learning how God made her to have very intense feelings, and about how He has them too, and that there is a right and good and Christ-like way to deal with those feelings."

I never realized how much I like things in controlled, neat boxes until I had three little souls that I couldn't stuff or shape or contain into anything other than what they are. The Biggest, she grins and stretches her arms way out and then runs her hands through her masses of wild curly wisps, shaking everything crazy for no apparent reason. "Is that girl really me? Is it about me?"

I grin. "That's what we all want to know, isn't it? Is the story about me? And kind of. It's about you. And me. But mostly it's about Him."

                                                              *     *     *

It's about Him being perfect and shaking up that picture in my head of human perfection. 

He was human perfection.

He felt weak and hungry. He felt deep passionate anger and He made a whip himself and overturned tables and scattered coins. His shoulders shook with sobs from weeping. He got tired and sat down wearily. He suffered anguish and agony and anticipation drew sweat like drops of blood from His perfect all-knowing head. He cried out in a loud voice to God.

Even Jesus did not carry His own cross alone. 

These are true colors of Jesus that I'm letting seep over my pre-set lines. These are the images that blur what I have long defined as perfection. I need to stop trying to stuff my made-in-the-image-of-God emotions and God-given, Christ-like physical limitations into neat little boxes I've mislabeled "self control" or "maturity" or "weakness" or "immaturity".

He lived perfectly. He felt deeply. He made me that way, too.

I've got to shake this picture of Him always physically calm and strong and emotionally at peace. It's a false, incomplete image of Him that I've accepted for too long. 

He is who I want to be like. I compare myself to Him and pray to conform ever more to His likeness, His character, His strength. I want to be perfect as He is perfect.

Is it any wonder then that if I forget or gloss over these truths about what His perfectly lived life really looked like that I will wrongly see my own God-given limitations and emotions as "immaturity" or areas that "need to be worked on"?

So instead of trying to excuse or mute or cover over these God-designed elements of who I am, I am looking to the Master Artist to learn how He uses them boldly for gloriously highlighting Beauty.

I am letting Him redesign what I have long pictured as perfect.

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