The one thing about getting old is that you FEEL it! Now, I realize that age is relative, in the sense that if you are older than me, you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait until you get to be my age young whippersnapper!” For me, I’ve noticed that if I get injured, it hurts that much longer! I don’t remember the pain lingering for months when I was younger, do you? I take intentional time to stretch before working out (something I never even thought of doing before) so that I can prevent any possibility of getting injured.
While I’m sure you can list many other ways you personally can feel your age, the reality is, our bodies place limits on what we can and cannot do. For some, we are born with defects that make ‘normal’ life difficult. For others, choices and happenstance have left our bodies to feel more pain and to make decisions based on our limitations. Our bodies on this earth are imperfect and flawed.
The incredible thing to me is that although our body is broken, God in His wisdom has given us the Holy Spirit to reside WITHIN us. We no longer need a temple made of stone to house the presence of God, for He has given us the privilege to access Him all the time, 24/7 (1 Corinthians 6:19). Our imperfect vessel holds that what is imperishable. Our body, that which is prone to injuries, sickness, and even sin is the vessel by which we can know Him, for we know Him by the Spirit. “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).
The truth is, the imperfections of our body are not limited to physical means, but also include the flawed parts of our past, our personality, and our persistent problems that we currently face. We have difficulties that we wish would go away. We do things that we know we shouldn’t do. Sometimes those limitations and imperfections are up in our face or are assaulting our minds. What good can come to the flawed, imperfect, and limiting nature of ourselves?
It was these thoughts of us being flawed and broken that prompted me to use a specific analogy when I preached at my church last Sunday. I had a flowerpot turned upside-down that had no obvious imperfections. It wasn’t cracked or broken. This flowerpot represented the external perfection the Pharisees sought and what the world says we should look like. Whether it’s at church, informal settings, or social media, we tend to portray ourselves in this way as if everything is fine and dandy and that life is well… perfect.
At the end of the message, I held up another upside-down flowerpot, this time with several holes in it. This represented who we really are – the flaws, the struggles, and the trials. We are ‘perfectly flawed.’ Why is this important to admit?
2 Corinthians 4:7 – “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
It was at this time I turned on the lamp inside the flawed flowerpot, which illuminated the light through the holes for all to see. Our imperfections can be used to shine the light of Christ to others. It lets others know, “I’m not perfect, but there is One that is.” Christ helps us in our flaws and our frailties so HE gets the glory, not us. As long as we are willing to be vulnerable with others about our weaknesses and our worries, others can see His ever-working, grace-filled presence within us to draw them closer to Jesus.
For myself, I was a rebellious youth, causing pain to my parents and constantly making the wrong choices. It came to a head when I got 2 DUIs before the age of 21. While this is something I’m not proud of, I see how the Lord used this event to bring me back to Him and to seek the plans He has for me. I can share this moment of my past with confidence to others on a similar journey in hopes of persuading them to abandon their recklessness and destructive path.
Of course, there are current struggles as well. The battle I have within myself of feeling ineffective at times in ministry. It’s not that I only feel like I don’t ‘measure up’ but that I have to operate out of my weaknesses to fulfill certain responsibilities. What I naturally lean towards or have fruit in I cannot do much of and what I am required to do, I struggle with. The battle between being a faithful steward is constantly at play.
Yet again, I say these things not for you to feel sorry for me, but for God to get the glory. Here’s the kicker: Remember that ‘perfect’ flowerpot I talked about? I went back to it and revealed what was underneath it the whole time – a candle shining in all its glory, but sadly, NO ONE COULD SEE IT. Its perfected nature with no flaws concealed the light. Therefore, if we are not willing to be vulnerable with others and point to Christ – ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12), we cannot be ‘children of the light’ (Ephesians 5:8).
I pray that this analogy of 2 Corinthians 4:7 leaves you with hope in that the Holy Spirit can use the broken pieces within you to best represent Christ. Take the time this week to see if you have been trying to work towards perfection for God instead of allowing God to work through your imperfections. If it is the desire to be in control, to be certain before acting, to have a picturesque life for others to see, bring that to Jesus. And ask, “how can my imperfections point help others in this season of my life? “In what ways can I allow my weaknesses to witness to others?” In this way, you can further follow Paul’s motto in saying “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). May Christ’s power rest on you as the glory of God shines through you as ‘perfectly flawed!’