By Rev. Karl A. Francis
From a young age I liked to think of myself as one who strove for excellence, but after deep reflection, I realized it’s perfection that I really wanted. Striving for perfection is hard work and usually leads to attempting to do everything all by oneself. That approach is ineffective because no one is perfect.
Nevertheless, perfection was the only goal for me, especially when it related to planning an important event. For example, many years ago when I was helping to plan our wedding, what do you think I was aiming for? Excellence? No, perfection!
Our wedding was to take place in the church we attended, followed by a reception on the large lawn of a friend’s home. The lawn was big enough to host three hundred people seated at round tables. Back then, forty-plus years ago in Jamaica, weddings were not normally held at hotels or rental halls, but at homes on the lawn. Additionally, private catering was not always utilized because family members often donated large amounts of the food for the wedding reception. Our case was no exception. Our relatives gifted us with a whole pig and a goat, which were prepared by two renowned chefs at different locations.
For a wedding to be considered successful, the reception following the ceremony in the church had to be well planned and equally well executed. One had to ensure that no matter where the various menu items were prepared, they would be prepared perfectly and delivered to the reception venue on time.
Our wedding was scheduled for late afternoon. That morning I verified with the people responsible that everything was on schedule. Early afternoon I verified the schedule again, and, I admit, one more time just before the wedding ceremony! I was exhausted from checking on the event not by phone, but by physically visiting each location that prepared the items. Yes, despite my extreme effort to have a perfect wedding, I did manage to make it to the wedding on time, for I would not miss marrying Dyrie, the lovely woman God had given me.
You may be wondering how it turned out. Well, the ceremony at the church ended up going well as the presence of God was very evident. But the person transporting my lovely bride to the ceremony got lost despite his insistence that he knew exactly where to go. Dyrie was half an hour late due to no fault of her own. She had been dressed and waiting!
And we had more surprises. The photographers arrived early and took many pictures. Now remember, those were the days when rolls of Kodak or Fuji films were used and later processed. We considered ourselves fortunate to engage the service of a professional British photographer on special assignment to the government of Jamaica. We thought he must be excellent to have received such an assignment. Typically, a couple would receive their pictures a couple weeks following the wedding. But alas, after a couple weeks, we received the shocking news from the photographer that he had misplaced the rolls of film of our wedding. He may still be searching for them today! Can you imagine such a disappointment? Thankfully, we received some pictures taken by individuals with their personal cameras, but they were certainly not taken with multiple pixel cameras like most people use today.
The major lesson I learned from this experience is that no matter how hard you try to plan a perfect event, it seems something naturally goes wrong (Murphy’s Law). After my wedding, I began to keep score of events planned by me and others. I observed that somehow, despite meticulous planning, things do not always occur as planned, especially things out of one’s control.
Currently, I provide premarital counseling to many couples. During the final session I encourage them to not allow their day to be marred by events that failed to go as planned. Some will even hire meticulous wedding planners, yet later I still hear that something went contrary to plan.
Scriptures confirm in different passages that only God is perfect. Perfect means “without flaw.” God is perfect in every way. He is flawless!
He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he (Deuteronomy 32:4, NIV).
Both 2 Samuel 22:31 and Psalm 18:30 use the same words to declare that God is perfect in word and deed.
As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.
God’s perfection is evident in His character, His Word, and His actions.
God is perfect; we are not. But when He saves us, the Holy Spirit moves into our being and begins to transform our imperfections, to make us more like Jesus. How does He accomplish this? Through a process called sanctification. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (NIV) states,
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
The writer of Colossians says,
When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature” (Colossians 2:11, NLT).
God’s goal is that we become “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Although we know we will never attain absolute perfection in this fallen world, God desires us to pursue it. The pursuit itself is of great value because we are working in harmony with God’s plan for us. God is perfect. Jesus is perfect. Yet the essential life lesson for me is that God alone is perfect. Hence, we who are imperfect beings can strive for excellence, but we should leave perfection to God. We will realize perfection on the other side in heaven.
Now, I strive for excellence, and when things are not perfect, I smile and say to myself, “Yes, only God is perfect.”
About the Author
Having been involved in pastoral ministry for more than forty years, Karl A. Francis is lead pastor of Living Word Open Bible in Cooper City, Florida, which he and his wife, Dyrie, pioneered in 1993. He serves on the National Board of Open Bible Churches, USA, and the Board of Global Missions of Open Bible Churches, USA. He serves as the chairman for South Florida Keswick, a multi-denominational organization comprised of some twenty churches. He is also the South District Director for the Southeast Region of Open Bible Churches. A graduate of Open Bible College in Jamaica, Rev. Francis holds a master’s degree in finance from the University of Miami, Florida.
A former executive banker, Rev. Francis is a popular conference speaker in the United States and internationally. He has a strong passion for developing leaders who have planted several churches under his mentorship. He and his wife, Dyrie, live in South Florida and have two grown sons, Jonathan and Bryan.