Chemo, finished. Two surgeries, behind me. Lab reports, received. Some surprises, but mostly good news. First infusion of biologic drugs, meant to keep the cancer from recurring, underway. Side effects, not supposed to be devastating. Thankful. Sitting in the chair while the drugs infused my body, I noticed a streak under the fingernail of my right ring finger. Having had a cuticle melanoma in 2007, which required the amputation of half of my right great toe, I remembered what that looked like, starting out. I felt dread shoot through me like a poisoned arrow, hitting its mark, just when I thought things were smoothing out.
Appointments with my dermatologist and a hand surgeon, confirmed that it was better safe than sorry, especially with my history: biopsy scheduled the Friday after Christmas.
That first night worry, tears and discouragement swept in on me with black wings. I felt as if my family and I were re-enacting the trials of Job on a somewhat different scale: disease, tragedy, loss, grief, hurt, betrayal – we had experienced it all within the last year and a half. But God’s word is true: His mercies are new every morning. While I sat with my Bible and my coffee in the quiet after restless sleep, I found refuge in the shelter of His wings. He brought peace, comfort and a complete awareness that perfection is only found in Him, not in a world contaminated by sin.
We seek smooth paths. We want disease free lives, unbroken relationships, days that are glitch free, life events that blend together just as we’ve planned. We want our children to be without heartache and worry and live with success. We seek careers, homes and surroundings as close to perfection as we can get. Even those not labeled “perfectionists” want carefree, beautiful lives. In a way, we seek to re-create our own personal Eden. Yet, Eden is elusive: unattainable in our world and the source of our frustration when we wear ourselves out chasing it. So, why do we seek something that no one can truly have on or of this earth?
We are created in God’s image; perhaps our quest for Eden stems from that. Because He is perfect, maybe He put in each of us a desire for perfection; a thirst that gets twisted by the world and sends us off in pursuit of things we think will satisfy. It’s only by His grace that people see their failures, sins and their complete inability to re-create Eden. It’s only by His grace that people are able to see the One, His Son, who came to make the way back to a perfect place with the Creator.
God reached down into the world broken by sin and planted Perfection in the womb of a young Jewish girl. In due time, He, who was Creator of the world, entered the sin infused world as a tiny baby, swaddled in mystery and born to fulfill a rescue mission that only He could fulfill.
Some would hate Him, some would seek Him. The Prince of Peace came to make things right, not to bring peace on earth and mend the destruction left by sin, but to make right the relationship between God and man; to make the way back to Eden, where a true relationship with God could be enjoyed, even within the shambles of a broken world.
That Prince would live a perfect life in an imperfect world. He would walk, untainted by sin, along a path through the jagged pieces that would take Him to the cross. There, He would die a brutal death, separated from the love of His Father, endured to bring peace between God and us, His created.
As He walked the path to complete His mission, He would teach, love, heal and amaze. His fingerprints on the lives of those He touched would magnify His life through generations of others who would eventually come to call Him “Lord.”
His death on the cross, the perfect sacrifice, ordained by the Ancient of Days, and foretold, even as Eden was destroyed by sin in the beginning, would pay our sin debt. His resurrection would prove His victory over death. Jesus gave us perfection.
Not the perfection of a day or a life that holds no trouble, mistakes, worry or pain. Not perfection that is earned or deserved, or even fully understood, but the perfection of a relationship with our Creator that allows us to be in His presence because those who believe in Jesus are made perfect in God’s sight. This is a perfection that allows us a relationship with God, our refuge in times of heartache, sorrow and fear, a perfection that makes us a new creation and grants us the right to be called children of God, and treated as such: loved, cared for, disciplined, guided, blessed.
It is a perfection that will one day carry us into eternity, a forever Eden, where scars and heartaches will fall away like a tattered cloak.
The Eden we seek on earth will always be elusive. But, the relationship we have with God, through Christ, is our spiritual Eden that cannot be snatched away. satan would have us forget this. He tries to obscure it by bombarding us with shrapnel: disease, tragedy, busyness, misplaced priorities, worry.
Ask your Lord, in the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you, to guard your hearts and your minds, and fill you with the awareness of your spiritual Eden: perfect peace with your Father, gifted you by Jesus Christ. In Him, you are made perfect! Creep into a quiet place this Christmas to thank and worship Him! Love Him for all He is and all He has done!
If you haven’t claimed the gift of salvation from Jesus; Confess an imperfect life to Him and embrace the belief that He died for you. Find Eden in the perfect salvation offered by Jesus Christ!
Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mightly God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
1 Peter 2:24 (NIV) – Italics – mine
He Himself (Jesus) bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.”
Happy Birthday, Jesus, my Lord.
PHOTO CREDITS: M. Dalrymple