Hebrews 12:2 makes it clear Jesus is the pioneer and perfector of our faith. The pioneer that goes before and makes the way for others to follow. The perfector who is actively working in and among us to get us to the point of complete trust. The place where it is hard for the average believer to walk. Complete trust requires full submission and release of that ever-elusive control of circumstances.
A recent discussion with seven women believers on the topic of perfection as they study 1 John reminds me just how elusive it is. Easily recognized traits of a competitive spirit, striving for the absolute best grades, most satisfactory house, career, children, home life……are portrayed. Christian women striving for perfection in the material world, just like their unsaved counterparts, yet well aware it is unobtainable.
That edge of faith and hope, felt for most Christians, is not evident on the youngest member of the group just turning forty that day. The sad demeanor, lack of eye sparkle, worry lines, and slightly puffy facial appearance are suspiciously suspect of a long night of crying. Short, glib responses, and jerky body language display a little deeper anxiety. Reassurances, flattery, reminders of good and perfect gifts all fall on deaf ears.
Empathizing with this younger comrade, I try to recall that same feeling crossing my disturbed mind nine years ago. Aging. Wrinkles, sagging skin, not so toned muscles, cellulite, lack of exciting excursions. Goodbye to youth and prime thirties and hello to the unknown, not so attractive, forties. The most amazing thing took place assessing all the flaws on the outside. The Holy Spirit renewed my mind towards all that God had accomplished in my life, on the inside.
The inpatient, striving for success, sarcastic perfectionist in her twenties became a sober and thoughtful wife, mother,and nurse. The scars of rejection from a dysfunctional home, emotionally distant mother, and marital compromise (very near demise) culminated in the aching need for a savior in the late twenties, early thirties. Drawing closer to God through prayer, attending church, and eventually craving the word above all; helped this very imperfect aging female to be grateful.
Grateful for God’s generosity and provision through those emotional deserts. Refining and ever perfecting a heart bursting with gladness for healthy, intelligent daughters, a fulfilling career of helping others, and a deeply committed, salvaged marriage! Thankfulness for developing a love for His word. Moreover, an awe and wonder of why He, in all Holiness, stuck with me, an unworthy sinner.
A joy and peace that only Jesus offers, fills the void a loss of youth whispers. Appreciation replaces sadness, the fullness of His great love fuels the desire to serve Him and inspires an astute observation of where I may fully submit to Him and love Him in return. I only have a minute understanding of what it meant for Jesus to endure the cross, scorning it’s shame, to sit at the right hand of the Father as Hebrews describes. Although, the magnitude of that sacrifice eclipses my full comprehension, it still moves my soul to please the pioneer of my faith through every aspect of the aging process. Hoping with full hope to be made perfect in His presence one day.