The Messy Process of Being Made Perfect


In order to make repairs on the dam at one end of the lake on which I live, engineers lowered the water level to twelve feet below the normal height.

In a few days, the beautiful and serene pond turned into an almost completely drained mud hole; to my eyes, it resembled pictures of a moonscape.

Jagged-edges of rotted tree stumps pierced the surface of the water that remained in the lake.

I felt shocked to see how shallow the lake actually was and to discover what lay at the bottom of it. Not a pretty or fragrant sight! The odor of decaying material that had been uncovered caused me to move a bit faster on my walk back home.

There are days on my journey toward emotional and spiritual maturity that I want to avoid “smelling” my below-the-surface emotions. I know that something’s rotting there, but I’d rather walk a bit faster—keep busy and ignore the simmering anger or hidden resentment.

Because I’ve been a follower of Jesus for many years, I think that I should no longer struggle with these things. I feel embarrassed but he is not. 

He sees below my surface smile but does not shun me; still, in his kindness, he does not ignore my messy inner self. Without condemnation, he shows me what I need to correct. With grace, he takes me by the hand and helps me climb out of my muddy hiding place. 

Instead of using the power of fear to make me forcibly submit, Jesus uses the strength of compassion to lift me out of my stuck place. Then, with joy and gratitude, I place my feet back on the pathway of life–receiving and following the personalized instruction that the Holy Spirit gives to me through Scripture. 

Among the Scripture verses that I cling to , this is a favorite :”For indeed he who makes holy and those being made holy all have the same origin, and so he is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:11 NET).

Why do I like this Scripture so much? It tells me that being made holy (perfect, complete, whole) is a process–a lifelong journey. On this journey, I often need some inner repair. All of us Christians, do. Pretended perfection is as smelly as the rotting material at the bottom of a lake.

The following poem, which I wrote quite a few years ago, reminds me of Jesus’ amazing attitude of grace toward those of us who are being made perfect. He says to us:

There’s Victory for the Weakest Saint

Don’t run away in fear and hide
when you are hurting so, inside.

Don’t cover up your sin so dark
for shame and guilt make worse the mark.

Your debt’s completely paid by me;
I bore it all upon that tree.

And you can trust I’ll meet your need–
my cleansing grace for every deed.

When you are at temptation’s door-
remember I’ve been there before

You. I know the way to win
unceasing battles over sin.

So, do not run or fear defeat
but with my Word the Tempter meet.

There’s victory for the weakest saint.
Be strong in faith and do not faint!

Jane Ault

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