This past week Bryan and I drove to Colorado for a close friend’s wedding. I came back from the trip physically fatigued from the long drive and a heavy dose of dancing. The trip, while exhausting for my body, was medicine for my heart. Driving through the mountains and canyons on the way to Glenwood Springs was breathtaking. In the three days we were there the aspens started to turn, so while the drive in was green and lush, the way out was bursting with yellow and gold.
Throughout the trip, God had been moving in my heart about whom I aim to please. With an increase in writing and speaking lately, I have found it hard to satisfy not just others, but myself (who tends to be the harshest of judges). I want everything I say to be perfect and powerful with every crack filled so that misunderstanding can’t slip through.
This goal of perfection can quickly make me a slave, not only in writing but also in living. I try to build myself into a pyramid so that others can make trips to come see me stand tall, and admire my strength. I know I am not alone in my pyramid building because I see pyramids filling the pews around me.
Every once in a while I meet a mountain. Their lines aren’t straight, they have uneven surfaces, fallen trees and scandalous scars from last year’s storm; but something about them is beautiful, and their messiness seems perfectly planned. Their life could not have been made by the hands of man, so they stand as a testament to their Creator.
Mountains vs. Pyramids
The reasons for taking a trip to see the mountains, and a trip to see the pyramids are very different. People escape to the mountains to be reminded of how small they are. Many would say that when you see the beauty and majesty of a mountain you cannot deny that there is a God. Who else could create such beauty? Feelings overwhelm you as you watch the sun creep up over the valley, teeming with life in every nook and cranny. The smell of mountain air makes you feel alive. The whole experience of a trip to the mountains is refreshing and leaves you feeling humbled before the Lord.
Taking a trip to see the pyramids, on the other hand, is a totally different experience. Now to be clear, I want to see the pyramids and I have never been; nonetheless, I have heard stories from my friends about their trips and not one of them resulted in praising God. “It is just amazing what they (men) did with such precision,” people say. “To think of how much work and engineering had to happen- it seems impossible. It was amazing to see.” The selfish ideas of humans, carried out through slavery and oppression resulted in a “perfect” mountain that people still visit today. It is mankind's glory.
So which would you rather be: a mountain or a pyramid?
I have painted a pretty obvious picture of where I stand. However it is a dangerous thing to seek mountainhood. It takes daring vulnerability to allow light to shine on the caves and cracks in our lives, but it is in the misfortunes that others can see the beauty of God’s grace. A grace that takes failures and defeat and turns them into beautiful canyons and waterfalls.
Perfect In Christ
We must seek perfection differently. Instead of having an end goal of our definition of perfect and doing whatever we can to get ourselves there, we must seek the Holy Spirit as he walks us through each day. The Spirit will guide us away from shame and towards redemption, away from pride and toward humility, and away from our imperfect definition of perfection toward who we were created to be.
Humankind is God's only creation made in his image, and Disciples are the only living beings to have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. Our potential to be a witness of who he is, is so much greater than that of a mountain. When people spend time with us, they should feel that there must be a God.
We will be given complete perfection when our Savior returns and makes all things right; but until then, we must admit our own inadequacies and cling to the One who is perfect. Our confidence must no longer depend on our flesh, but on the work of Christ. The Apostle Paul was a great example of this. In his letter to the church of Philippi he described his former way of “perfection” and compared it to his new way of seeking perfect dependence on Christ.
This week I am asking the Holy Spirit to lead me away from my old way of seeking to be a perfect specimen of Christianity, and lead me toward living perfectly in step with my Savior. His perfection is enough. I am so grateful for the grace our Creator has on his creation… Even the rocks cry out his praise.