Today I have been thinking about perfection. I don’t consider myself a perfectionist however I do like it when a plan comes together without a hitch. It is a great feeling when all of the planning bears fruit for the enjoyment of people who are the recipients of the executed plan. So what happens when the perfect plan does not go as planned or anticipated? Well frankly it leaves me uneasy and wondering what went wrong. In fact sometimes I get so hung up on what went wrong that I overlook all of the things that went right. So maybe I am a perfectionist.
When I researched the definition of mystery, words like obscure, unknowing, puzzling and unexplained were used to define it. The truth is that there are many things that are puzzling or unknown about nature, relationships, medicine and/or science. As humans, being blessed with minds and the ability to reason, we are constantly trying to solve the unknowables. Sometimes we are successful and are amazed at the discoveries as in space exploration. But there are still things that cannot and will not ever be answered with complete assurance. I believe this is intentional and purposeful. If we knew all of those things that are unexplained, then how would we grow in knowledge or seek to discover new ideas.
Another one of the dictionary meanings indicated that the word mystery could be defined as things that are only knowable by “divine revelation.” As a Christian, I believe there are many things, actually innumerable of ideas, events and feelings that are known only to God. The Bible is full of such examples and there are far too many to name here. My point is that God is full of mystery. We cannot possibly know everything there is to know about God and God’s Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. For example, if every Sunday service was planned and executed to perfection, then how would the service of music, scripture, preaching and study allow for the Holy Spirit to move or speak into our hearts an,d minds? If the sermon was planned to perfection then how would the pastor allow the Holy Spirit to speak into the words being shared? The Holy Spirit’s hands would be tied. Our hearts and minds would not be affected by the perfectly performed speech. The biblical text would just be words recited at just the right time to support the intention of the sermon. Doesn’t all of that perfection seem mechanical and boring?
To better clarify what the mystery of imperfection might mean to me in my regular life it occurred to me that Jesus Christ, who was perfection as the Son of God, understood that mystery better than anyone. Jesus traveled the countryside preaching, teaching and healing the people who came to hear his message of love and acceptance. I am sure that he made plans to celebrate the Sabbath, travel to towns, attend dinners to which he had been invited, which are all good, but to Jesus what was most important were the people he loved, healed and touched along the way to fulfilling his plans. The gospels are filled with people like the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant, or the woman who had a blood disorder for 12 years who touched his cloak in order to be healed, or the countless blind men, and people who were demon-possessed, or had skin disorders. He took time for all of them. What if he had looked at their needs and said that they did not fit into his plan for the day, maybe tomorrow but right now he had a dinner to get to and he couldn’t’ t be late. What if he had followed his disciples into the town for food and missed the conversation with the Samaritan woman about living water. What if he had listened to his disciples to send thousands of his followers home hungry and not fed them with 5 leaves of bread and 2 fish? Jesus always took the opportunity to show his mercy and grace to thousands of people that he met along the way. He let the mystery of the unknown or unplanned moments develop into unexpected actions of love and miracles of healing.
With that in mind, I asked myself who gets pleasure from a perfectly executed plan? Am I planning for God’s pleasure or for mine? Is it more important to me that everything is perfect rather than letting God work His divine pleasure for those that are affected by the plan? It seems to me that by getting uptight about the missteps or the mistakes that are made, hinders the mystery workings of Holy Spirit to give it life. I realize that the Holy Spirit will do what the Spirit wants to do and that I do not control any aspect of how the Spirit moves. What I can control or change is my desire to ensure that everything is perfect and not get uptight when it isn’t. I readily admit that it is much easier to give grace to others when they make mistakes than it is for me to live into that grace myself. Jesus told people not to worry about their lives and just maybe he was thinking about being or creating perfection as well. He said, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of it’s own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” So let’s not worry about being perfect and live into the mystery of imperfection.