Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shift to Perfection

By Brenda Black

Jump! Buck! Stall! Roll! As much as it felt like I was riding a bronc, the reality was a mossy green Dodge Dart Duster had me grabbing the horn and holding on for dear life on EE blacktop! Okay, so Dad came up a little short at teaching me to drive a stick shift. It was no fault of his own. He couldn't risk grinding gears on his only mode of transportation to work. I sort of learned how; I just never perfected it. My dear husband tried to build on the fundamentals many years later in his new, cherry red Ford pickup. He was about as patient as my pop. Together, their combined teaching made me barely capable and certainly far from confident on a manual. Since I couldn't do it perfectly, I chose to go automatic.

Some things in life just don't come easy, especially perfection. We demand it from others, expect it from ourselves, and wind up perfectly disillusioned when we all fall short of the target. The slow fade from grinding gears to giving up can leave us settling for less than best. The final resort all too often is auto-pilot living. Still we are called to perfection.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

I tend to be a perfectionist in nearly every area of my life. Why I shunned stick shifts leaves me a little baffled. I'm sure it perplexed my perfectionistic papa as well. No doubt, that's where I get my “drive.” He likes his world in order, everything in its place. He prints in all caps with perfectly sized letters lined up like little soldiers. He attacks every task with diligence and discipline.

This same man has a softer side. I saw a tear in his eye when I was crowned Miss High School Rodeo Missouri and on the day I got married. He's the one who scooped me up and dusted me off when a horse bucked me off or a heifer kicked me. Daddy took me fishing, helped me with long division math and created elaborate fireworks shows on the Fourth of July.

He worked in the city 40 hours a week and drove two hours round trip in rush hour traffic to get home on a Friday night, load up horses and drive two more hours to a youth rodeo. We took family vacations. He teased and tickled and kissed me good night and still tells me out loud “I love you.”

My dad is a great father, but he still isn't perfect and neither am I a perfect daughter. In fact, nobody on the planet is perfect! But what do we do with this challenge from Scripture to be perfect? Fear not! The word perfect has less to do with outward acts and more to do with the work within us. “Perfect” means complete. And it is the Lord who finishes the project. Be confident of this, “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:6-8)

It should bring us blissful peace to know that the Perfect One is doing a perfect work in every believer! God doesn't demand perfect performance, He longs for perfect fellowship.

“I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” (1 John 2:12-14)

The emphasis is on knowing the Lord! When we fall short, John explains the way of grace. “But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 Jn. 2:1b-2)

Dad failed at teaching me to drive a stick shift. I failed at learning. But those old sins are forgiven. Just the other day, my daddy trusted me to drive his brand new Explorer (automatic) the the city... because perfect love drives out fear!

If my imperfect father has such affection for me, how much more my Perfect Father in Heaven.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads who are a work in progress and perfectly appreciated for all you do and all you are in Christ.

**Special Note: Thank you to all the facebook suggestions for a topic this week. You gave me some perfectly superb ideas!

copyright 2011 Brenda Black

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