An interesting thing takes place in our house when my wife is on the flower and altar committee at church. All of a sudden, spring garden shopping for our yard takes on a whole new meaning. For instance, we have one plot where every time she is on the committee, we grow zinnias because they are great cutting flowers. She also worries over whether there is enough (or not enough) rain for our perennials to produce adequate—and timely—blossoms for Sunday’s arrangements.
This year we were out shopping at the end of the season and knowing that many of our plants had succumbed to the heavy rains, she decided to add to her available flower source and chose a hanging basket of white geraniums that was almost perfect but needed just a little tweaking to finish it out. This was several weeks ago—and the pot is still on our back deck, needing a little work. The plant doesn’t seem to want to fill in properly and so there is some doubt as to whether it will ever make it as an altar flower.
As we discussed the fate of this plant, my wife said she wanted to make sure it looked as nice as possible before she used it on the altar. After all, aren’t we to bring our very best to God? Although this thought is fine for plants at God’s altar, it is not okay for us humans: We can never attain perfection here on Earth. But—and this is a major point to consider, we are welcome at God’s altar and in His house no matter our condition.
God doesn’t care if we are like that flower: lop-sided with straggly stems and droopy blooms. God accepts us just how we are. He knows us. He knows there is no way we will ever be good enough to come before His throne and yet He calls us. He calls us to offer up our lives so He can be a part of them and fix the portions that need repair. Unlike our geraniums, we don’t have to be perfect to go to the altar because it is at the altar that we are made “just right.”
One of my favorite songs that I play on an almost-daily basis is called “The Well” by Casting Crowns. The song talks about this very subject. Its words remind us that God has already done all the work and we don’t have to be perfect to come to Him, only open to where He wants to take us. Some of the words are:
So bring me your heart
No matter how broken,
Just come as you are,
When your last prayer is spoken,
Just rest in my arms a while,
You'll feel the change my child,
When you come to the well.
From those words alone, we learn that God knows how broken we are and the only way to get our prayers answered and our hearts mended is by coming to the well, the never-ending source of love of the One who created us.
On a cautionary note, we must realize that this change is not going to happen overnight. Our lives are a journey toward becoming more like Jesus every day. The Apostle Paul wrote often about his journey to becoming all God wanted him to be. In his letter to the church at Philippi, he wrote these words: It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose (Philippians 3:12, CEB).
We will never be perfect but like Paul we are called to keep pursuing the goal of Jesus Christ. Come to His altar and know His love.
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