God Works His Perfect Will in Imperfection
By Major Robert Lyle, Chattanooga Area Command
The Christmas story tells us a lot about God and His heart towards man. It shows us His mercy toward His people, unable to walk in perfection and unable to save themselves from the burden of legalism and self-reliance. In the midst of this “unableness”, He glorifies Himself and sets into place a plan to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves
The Christmas season also shows His penchant for humility and His love for and sovereignty over our imperfection. After all, it was His choice to send His Holy Son to be born among animals; our Christmas present was wrapped in a death cloth and worshipped first by outcasts.
In considering how God has long worked through imperfections, I’m reminded of Paul who wrote, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it (the thorn in my flesh to torment me) away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 ESV)
I’m reminded of Charles Spurgeon who suffered debilitating gout, poisonous slander, recurring depression. Why? We may never know, but we do know how he reconciled his suffering with a gracious God because he tells us in his writings that he was but a soldier; the Lord was the Captain of the host, hence victory was assured. He explained in 1873: “As long as I trace my pain to accident, my bereavement to mistake, my loss to another’s wrong, my discomfort to an enemy, and so on, I am of the earth, earthy, and shall break my teeth with gravel stones; but when I rise to my God and see his hand at work, I grow calm, I have not a word of repining.” On June 7, 1891, in extreme physical pain from his illnesses, Spurgeon preached what, unknown to him, proved to be his last sermon. His concluding words in the pulpit were, as usual, about his Lord: “He is the most magnanimous of captains. There never was his like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold he always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden, he carries it also. If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in him. These forty years and more have I served him, blessed be his name! and I have had nothing but love from him. I would be glad to continue yet another forty years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter on it at once! God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day! Amen.”
These beautiful examples cause me to look at my own imperfections and wonder how God plans to accomplish His perfect will through them. Already I see my dependence on the body of Christ, His church, and the many gifts, talents and skills the body offers to work in unity (John 17:20-23) to accomplish the work in which He’s allowed us to participate.
What challenges has He allowed in your life? Will you offer those back to Him as an act of worship and allow Him to do amazing things in and through you for your good and His glory? I pray you will!
Major Robert Lyle is an ordained, evangelical pastor for the Chattanooga region Salvation Army. The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. For more information on The Salvation Army in the Chattanooga region, go to csarmy.org.