For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. (Romans 8:3)
Old Bessie met her maker last week. The undertaker came and carted her away. It was a sad day for Nancy and me. We loved Bessie. She has been with us since we moved into our home almost 32 years ago. She was just a newborn then … less than a year old. But she proved to be a reliable companion. A faithful companion. We will miss our old dishwasher. She wasn’t perfect. A goodly number of pegs were missing in her trays, having rusted off over the years. Her finish was not so great of late, and sometimes the latch that locked her door in position for the wash cycle could be a little contrary.
But we knew her … we had history together. Other than Jess’s first birthday, Bessie washed dishes for every other birthday our kids celebrated in the house and all but one of their Christmas celebrations. She occasionally cleaned toys and other containers that were especially fond of their toddler and little kid smudges. My daughter tells me that she can remember falling asleep to Bessie’s hum (which could be heard throughout the house), when we set her going on a load of kitchenware before retiring for the night. Our new dishwasher is clearly far quieter … and more efficient … and filled with additional washing options. But it is not Bessie.
This is silly, I know. The new dishwasher will be far easier to use, less costly to run, and will offer far more options. But that doesn’t hold a candle to a history together … a long history, pockmarked and imperfect as it is.
It is in fact just a dishwasher. I know that, of course. But the analogy fits other parts of my life, too. I am in all kinds of relationships with imperfect people … people who may not be efficient communicators … people who are missing a few pegs of restraint or kindness … people whose latches to parts of their personalities get stuck occasionally … people for whom the “luster” has worn off a bit. But I love them, too. Deeply in many cases. It is an imperfect love, because they love me also, in spite of my missing pieces and my non-working parts. It works because we model our human love after the one who loves us perfectly … faults and all, disobedience and all. The one whose death we will observe in two weeks, shows us the depth of that love, and the quixotic richness of God’s perfect love in the face of our imperfect love.
Look for expressions of that kind of love this week. A love that aspires to the beauty of God’s love, but which time and again must settle for the complicated and imperfect love that we offer each other. When offered is the Spirit of God, it is still a far better offering than what the world often musters. Pray that when imperfection is offered is honor of a God who loves perfectly, it becomes a little more beautiful … and loving in the best sense of the word.