As a child I remember having a constant sense of anticipation, of longing for something I didn’t even know how to name. In hindsight I now recognize that vague feeling as a desire for perfection. Within my childish heart God stirred the memory of life back in the Garden, when perfection was reality and nothing stood between the Creator and His creation. Of course, I did not know it as that, only as a yearning without words.
I remember moments which seemed on the verge of perfection, only to fall short of realization. Sitting on a cushion of springy moss in a sun-dappled forest, I experienced the piercing epiphany of seeing beauty in a furled sword fern shoot. The symmetrical detail of the tightly curled fern captivated me, bringing unexpected tears. Those tears surprised me, later becoming a sign for identifying longings not quite realized. I’ve had many ephemeral moments of near-perfection since then, but I’ve discovered only one moment in history which fulfills my longing completely.
When a star shone on a lowly stable …
When a woman cried out in the pains of childbirth …
When a feed trough was prepared for an infant’s bed …
Then perfection was born.
Perfect man, perfect God.
Jesus, God’s son, came at the perfect time in history.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5 KJV)
Born of a woman, veiled in flesh as a man. Born to a virgin, a pure woman. As the angel told her, “So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35b NIV)
God’s son, conceived without sin, because He is sinless.
“But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5)
He came to fulfill God’s perfect plan. A plan wrought before time began, because He knew we needed a Savior to redeem us from our sins. And only perfection would do.
“He is, therefore, exactly the kind of High Priest we need; for he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin, undefiled by sinners, and to him has been given the place of honor in heaven. Under the old system, even the high priests were weak and sinful men who could not keep from doing wrong, but later God appointed by his oath his Son who is perfect forever.” (Hebrews 7: 26 & 28 TLB)
He gave Himself, His very life, as the perfect sacrifice, so we could stand clean before God. “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”(Hebrews 10:14 NIV) What an amazing provision! We are made perfect because of His perfect sacrifice.
What kind of paradoxical thinking brings perfection into the world in a dusty animal barn, as a helpless infant, with a poor, adolescent mother? God, whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, created this plan and gave it to us as a gift, whether we understand it or not.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” ( James 1:17 NIV)
The perfect gift of Jesus, our Savior, requires acceptance from humans hopelessly flawed. God’s perfect plan is implemented when His Son is acknowledged for who He is and invited to live His life within us.
And so my childhood yearning for perfection at last finds rest, completion, fulfillment in a baby in a manger. In that tiny infant hand, reaching to where He came from, destined for cruel nails, He holds my heart and I am content.