Excitement filled the air. At long last it was time. It was my time. It was time to present an offering to the King. It was time to place the fruit of my labor–my very best efforts–before him.
The King himself had commissioned this gift. It was the very best I had to offer. I worked hard–really hard–but it was a labor of love. Now, I was finally able to present him with something born out of my passion. Something that came from my heart. Something that truly represented me and what I was called and created to do.
Others were excited for me. Everywhere I turned people were saying …
“You must feel so proud!”
“You must be so excited and pleased!”
I wanted to feel proud. I wanted to be excited. And there was a little bit of that. But mostly, I was nervous. Mostly, I was afraid.
I was afraid my very best wouldn’t be good enough.
After all the work, after all the waiting, and after more than a little worrying, at long last–the moment had come. As a crowd gathered to watch, I entered the throne room. Carefully, I laid my gift on the altar. Even though my head was bowed, I could feel the weight of his presence and the intensity of his gaze as he examined my offering. The entire room was filled with the brightest light imaginable. When at last I had the courage to look up …
I was mortified!
I wanted to run and hide. It was as I feared–my best was not good enough. I saw it all with such startling clarity. When exposed to such marvelous light, it was painfully obvious. Nothing remained hidden in his presence.
My offering … the very best I had to offer … the thing I poured my heart and soul into … the most precious gift I had ever given … could be summed up in one word …
In fact, it wasn’t just imperfect, it was deeply flawed. There were many blemishes. The longer I looked at it in the light, the more blemishes I saw. Though it was my very best effort, it was not flawless. It was not without spot or blemish.
It was NOT perfect.
Not even close.
I hung my head in shame. I was humiliated. I was defeated. Right there in his presence, in front of everyone, the truth was revealed …
I HAD FAILED.
When you fail at your best, what’s left?
My heart was broken. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to lift my head again. Not only had I failed in a very public way–I failed him–the One I desperately desired to please.
I was so lost in the devastation of the moment and so disappointed in myself that I barely heard the rumbling that was increasing around me. Finally a hand–his hand–gently lifted my chin and I looked into his eyes. To my surprise, they held no disappointment. Only love. And mercy. And compassion. And something else that stunned me …
I was looking into the eyes of a very proud Papa.
Buoyed by his love, the fog of despair began to lift. As it did, I noticed the source of the rumbling. It was the crowd. They were on their feet. They were shouting. They were clapping. They were cheering.
They were cheering for me.
Even though my offering was clearly imperfect, they were still cheering. They were cheering what I had accomplished, not what I hadn’t. They were cheering my sacrifice and the intentions of my heart, not my imperfect execution. They weren’t nit-picking the flaws, they were celebrating the overall beauty of my gift.
And so was the King.
Beloved, hold your head high. You’ve done well. You did what you could. You gave me your best and you gave me your all. The fragrance of your sacrifice is sweet and pleasing to me. Don’t compare your best to anyone else’s best. Don’t compare your best to your own desires or expectations. You’re looking at the outside–at the minor exterior blemishes–I’m looking at the heart.
Yes, your offering is imperfect. But all of your imperfection; all of your weakness–has been swallowed up in my perfection; in my strength. Your imperfection is made perfect in my presence. I didn’t release the light of my presence to expose the imperfection of your offering, but rather to expose the areas of your heart that have not yet been made perfect in the knowledge of my love. It is my perfect love that covers your every imperfection. It is my perfect love that casts away all of your fears–even your fears of rejection and failure. Because my love never fails.
Where you see failure and imperfection, I see the flawless beauty of a heart after my own. Rest secure in my acceptance. Rest secure in my love.
It’s true. My offering, all of my offerings, are imperfect …
But all imperfection fades in the presence of perfect Love.