Throughout my adult life, I’ve been aiming at a target that cannot be hit. Only in recent years did this realization penetrate my understanding. I wrongly assumed that one day, as I grew in maturity in Christ, my brokenness would no longer impact my actions, responses, or emotions. I didn’t know at what specific age this miraculous maturity would occur, but it was the mark toward which I strove.
Of course, I knew that perfection could never be reached, rather I assumed I would somehow arrive – I would feel mature and complete. But that comes when perseverance has finished its work, which it will not do until I see Christ face to face. Until then, the acute tension between the difficulty of the now and the blessed relief coming in the not yet tugs me in two directions more fiercely.
- I feel more acutely how fallen our world is.
- I long more fervently for the other side.
- I am more keenly aware of my brokenness.
- More quickly in crisis, I am impacted by my deep and abiding need for Christ.
- Sooner I remember that the Lord is near, and I call out to Him for help.
But I will never do this perfectly or seamlessly in this lifetime. Neither will you.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (1 Corinthians 4:6-10 NIV).
We always live in this tension: We are fragile and broken and yet our bodies house God’s presence within us. We are on earth, but we are made for heaven.
Now I recognize my sin sooner, while it’s buried in the form of coldness or attitude. However, I may still bicker or raise my voice in argument. The repetitive disagreements, the points of contention, these I learn to resolve quicker. But still, I can become irritable over petty issues and frustrations. I’m devastated by it afterward. But then I sooner recall God’s grace and love for me, because I am broken. This is the tension.
I wanted to have these things all worked out at some point in my humanity, to avoid the embarrassment and burden on my family of my emotions, weaknesses, or reactions. But the point is not to think that all broken places can be eradicated, for they cannot, but to recognize these places sooner and to turn to Christ in them.
I am merely human. We all are. There never comes a time on this earth when we don’t need Christ. We never reach a point of perfect maturity where we can coast across the finish line. We need Him desperately, more than breath. This is why He came.
Our trust and dependence upon Him and His love for us in our brokenness are the essential facts of our salvation. He does the work. Our task is merely to respond. He opens our eyes to perceive the broken places and gives us the grace to turn to Him, to rest in Him in the tension, rather than to resist His help or to despair over His physical absence. We long for Him and yet rest in Him simultaneously. Responding to Him is what allows us to cross the finish line resting in His grace. This is true maturity.
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (Philippians 3:10-16 NIV).