On my windowsill, there are two Play-Doh figurines. Not clay. Play-Doh.
Red, yellow, blue, and green Play-Doh.
I love those things.
I actually have three. One's still on my bookshelf at home.
The ones I have here are a hippo and a Sphinx.
And you better not tell me any differently.
I got them about a year ago from the most talented artist I know.
My nine-year-old brother, Michael.
I came in after getting off the bus after school and he was sitting at the table, working on his school work, and when he saw me come in, he scurried to hide what he was working on and yelled, "Don't look!"
About an hour later, I was sitting at my computer and he came through my door with a big grin on his face. "Becky, I have a surprise for you."
He held out his two skinny little hands and hands me the first of the multicolored sculptures. "Do you love it?" he asked.
And of course I did.
It wouldn't look like much to you or anyone else. Because it's Play-Doh and not modeling clay, it's still soft and falls apart if you look at it wrong.
But I love it. It's the most beautiful thing I own. It's incredibly, awesomely precious in my eyes because my brother made it. I love it.
It makes me think about all of the times I worked in Sunday School or when I was student teaching. Even times when I was little and would craft masterpieces and offer them up to my parents, hoping that they would love the thing I made for them; my small, unimpressive offering. I have never had artistic talent, per se. I was always that kid in art class that would watch the teacher draw a cat, follow her steps exactly, and end up with a dog. And yet, every single time, my parents would look at the thing I made for them and call it good and wonderful. It would be as thought I had given them an original Picasso.
Other than the fact that my mother doesn't like Picasso. But you get the point.
I'm not sure what made me think about this today. But something clicked in my mind all of the sudden.
Humans are full of imperfections. Which is something that blows my mind. God created us. And he had the power to make us perfect. And yet, here we are. Human. Imperfect. We mess up, we get hurt, we hurt others. No matter how hard we try. There are imperfections.
And we try so hard to get rid of them. We make rules and laws and regulations and try to force perfection. We shame ourselves, and unfortunately, at times, others, into beating ourselves up because we're not perfect and sometimes we fall. There's nothing wrong with striving for holiness, for attempting to be Christ-like. But at some point, it's important to accept that you're going to fall, and that the important thing is that you get back up and try to continue on and do better the next time.
Which brings me back to the Play-Doh sculpture. Do you know why I love that thing so much? It isn't perfect. It has fingerprints and marks on it from when my brother was making it and shaping it into what it was supposed to be. The marks and the scars and the imperfections are what make me love it so stinking much. It's a gift from somebody that I love that loves me. The act of love is what makes it dear to me.
Sometimes, I feel like when I'm going to God, that I've reverted back to my childhood, holding up a piece of paper with some crayon marks on it as my piece of art. It isn't much, but it's what I can give. It's what I've labored on and attempted to create as a miniscule offering to the one who made me, who cares for me, who picks me up, that I owe so much to because of his endless goodness, mercy, and grace towards me. I feel like a small child, holding up a smudged imperfect product to God, and I'll be honest with you, sometimes I feel like it's nothing.
And sometimes you may think that it's nothing. Sometime you think that your life and your ministry and whatever it is that you're offering to God is nothing because you're imperfect. Your offering is imperfect. Isaiah 64:6 (The Message) says-
We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated.
Our best efforts are grease-stained rags.
We dry up like autumn leaves—
sin-dried, we’re blown off by the wind.
It's disheartening to think about this. The fact that no matter what, no matter how you strive for perfection, it's not going to happen. Perfection is not something that is achieved on earth. It's not something that humanity allows. The fact is that no matter how holy or righteous I may think that I am or may strive to be, I am still an imperfect, human sinner. I have so very little to offer God. Nobody on the outside can see its worth. I can't even always see its worth. All I can see are the imperfections, the things that are displeasing, the corrupted aesthetics of my miniscule work of art.
I hold out my hands and give God my small offering, humbled as a small child with a gift for my Father. My Father, whom I love and who loves me. Who sees ME. Smudged, corrupt, imperfect ME. His child. Whom he loves.
And my offering.
And he takes it in his hands and sees the beauty, and sets it on his windowsill. And he loves it, despite its imperfections. And he loves me.
And somehow, that's all that matters.