The first crash of that shattering glass hit and it was just the day after Thanksgiving. We were only one day into the Christmas season and only about 1 hour into Operation Decorate the House.
‘Twas an accident of course.
The penguin soap dispenser hit that floor and ended in a puddle of hand soap and broken glass.
That’s decorating with kids.
Accidents happen, you know.
An hour later, another crash. Our box of special, keepsake, treasured ornaments hit the floor and a daughter cried with remorse.
Still, a little sweeping, a little mopping, a little gluing, a little comforting and we slipped back into the decorating groove, crooning along with Bing Crosby to White Christmas.
Stuff is stuff. Things break (especially when you’re clumsy like me, especially when you have four kids like us).
Look at our Christmas tree from afar and it still has that glow of perfect.
Look up close and you’ll see the ballerina’s feet are glued on, Noah’s ark is missing a dolphin leaping up out of the ocean waters, and the three kings no longer carry a sign: “Wise Men Still Seek Him.”
Brokenness can still be beautiful when we look with eyes of grace.
But when we squint up close to critique and criticize….when we look right past the glory and seek out the flaws…..suddenly that’s all we see.
Perfectionism is a bully.
It muscles in and takes over our perceptions.
It demands that we see only brokenness and faults.
It insists that we remain chained to the past, obsessing over mistakes, battering us over past sin, beating us up with shame.
Lysa TerKeurst writes:
My imperfections will never override God’s promises (The Best Yes).
The promise of Christmas is “God with us.” The promise is that when we were farthest from Him, He came to us.
The promise is that we didn’t have to get it right on our own or check the boxes of the law until we’d met some prerequisite to grace.
We didn’t come worthy.
We came needy.
And He came down.
Our imperfections never negated the promise of Emmanuel’s presence. Not then. Not now.
He still promises us this, “And surely I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20 NIV).
He is with us always, but not to leave us there in the brokenness.
Sometimes we stop right there at this thought: “Beauty in the brokenness. We’re all a mess in need of a Messiah.”
Sometimes we stop right there and, dare I say it, glory in the broken? We cling to our mess instead of releasing it to Him.
But the glory is in the Healer. The glory is in the redemption. The glory is in the One who puts His own pure robe of righteousness over our shaky shoulders.
He doesn’t leave us naked and ashamed. He “has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10 NIV).
We’ll never be perfect in our own striving and strength. True. But we don’t have to remain stuck there in the mud. He grips us with the hand of grace and pulls us out of that pit so we can move forward with Him.
Those disciples on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection didn’t have it all right. They didn’t have perfect understanding. Their belief was delicately trembling and about to topple their whole foundation of faith.
They thought Jesus had been the Messiah, yet He had died. These rumors from ‘crazy women’ about an empty tomb left them confused and alarmed.
But Jesus walked alongside without them recognizing him, going back to the beginning, telling the story start to finish.
When He was about to leave, “they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them.”
There at the dinner table, He broke the bread and their eyes opened wide to the truth: This was Jesus. This was God in their midst.
God’s presence doesn’t depend on my perfection.
God’s presence doesn’t demand perfect understanding or faith without fail.
But if I want God’s presence, then I have to invite Him in, urge Him strongly, “stay with me…..”
He can only make us whole when we trust Him with the pieces, all of them:
God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him. Psalm 18:20 MSG
We bring all the pieces. We don’t hold any back.
We lay them at His feet, not running away or hiding from Him. We come into His presence, broken as we are, and He makes us whole and holy, and He stays with us.
Originally published 12/10/2014