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Your Life is Perfect

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My management team got together the other day to review our progress on a major corporate initiative. About a year ago we had laid out a huge, exciting new vision, and we've been working ever since to implement it.

Well, struggling, actually, would be a better word.

Aside from its complexity, there have been all sorts of things getting in our way - cultural resistance, system issues, and unlearning the way we used to do things, to name a few.

After an hour of complaining about how much we suck, one particularly insightful manager finally said, "You know, it’s been hard, but look how far we’ve come compared to just three months ago." He proceeded to check off a litany of positive changes that have taken hold, as everyone listened attentively.

He was right. We were sinking so deep in the muck and mire, looking at all that we haven’t accomplished yet, that we had forgotten about the momentum we were riding with.

This reminded me of a scripture passage I had just read, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. In the first part, the Apostle Paul is describing an incredible vision where he was taken up into "the Third Heaven," whatever that is. It sounds like God decided to give him a personal tour of some of the peripheral heavenly places, just to give him a taste of what was coming.

Now, that must have made Paul feel really, really important.

But then he immediately contrasts this astounding Vision with talk of a pain-in-the-butt chronic problem that is driving him crazy, which he calls his "thorn in the side." God won’t take it away.

"I don’t care how important you are," God says to him. "Deal with it."

So there you have it: a life-altering Vision, and then the dregs of life, all bound up together. Isn’t that just how it is?

I thought more about all of my own super-sized visions for life – the plans I get so excited about, everything I still want to achieve. And then I made a mental list of the thorns, all of those painful imperfections. Believe me – I have plenty: the frustrations from everything that isn’t happening the way I’d like it to; the weaknesses I hold on to; all the things that are just plain wrong.

The glory and the dregs of life. God gives us both, usually all at once. And they come together in one messy, beautiful, achy package.

Paul resolves this spiritual disparity with the realization that, "God’s grace is sufficient for me. His strength is made perfect in my weakness."

What a relief.

I like this picture of grace. It rests on us quietly, as we go about our business.

This is me, reaching for the stars while knocking the glass off the table, shattering into a million pieces on the floor.

This is me, leading a business towards some bright and compelling future, only to be chased by fear and doubt in my attempts to bring us there.

This is me, casting about for a grand and exciting version of my future self, but held down like gravity in the present tense.

This is the thorny me.

Thank God, His grace is sufficient. I don’t need to strive so much, because it always goes before me, no matter what. And this life? Well, it will never be perfect. But so what. God himself said that He makes it perfect, and all of those weaknesses of mine just polish it up even brighter. They just make me depend on Him a little more.

The thorny me will never get everything I want, the way I think it should be. The thorny me will get tired, anxious and frustrated, and will make a lot of mistakes along the way. But God’s grace is enough.

It’s perfect.

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