I was getting very anxious during the first ten minutes of my sermons. I couldn't figure out why but knew I had to get a handle on it in a hurry. It was driving me crazy. So I went to a counselor and tried to explain to him everything I was thinking and feeling before, during, and after teaching.
He said I was suffering from paralysis by analysis. Not only did that rhyme, and sound like a band name, it clicked for me.
Paralysis by analysis has to do with fear of imperfection or unpreparedness. Today, we'll talk about the imperfection side of things.
In our anxiety, we attempt to mentally catalog a perfect solution for anything we could possibly imagine going imperfectly. We assume we'll feel more in control if we just think, think, think. What happens, however, is the opposite.
Since our minds are finite and potential imperfections are infinite, our brains are overstuffed and thus paralyzed. Like a plane carrying too much weight, we can't get off the runway and comfortably take off into a task, event, or decision.
Hope for us is in a perfect God.
The only thing that absolutely has to be perfect for us to get through this life already is. His name is Jesus. He lived a perfect life, died a perfect death, and now reigns as the perfect king.
The good news is that this perfect king exercises his power for imperfect people in imperfect situations. In fact, I'd say that's the plot line of almost every story in the scriptures.
- David was an imperfect teenager in a situation where thousands of things could have gone wrong, yet he defeats Goliath.
- Daniel was taken captive and thrown into a lion's den where conditions were less than ideal but survives prompting King Darius to worship God.
- Paul constantly faced imperfections as he traveled and planted churches but at the end of his life he said he had finished his course.
Speaking of Paul, he's the one who said, "I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses [imperfections], so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." Through his thorn in the flesh, Paul found out that Jesus thrives in our imperfection.
How does that work? When we acknowledge imperfection, we're humble and when we deny our imperfection we're prideful. Jesus resists the proud but he gives grace to the humble.
Since imperfections will always exist, let’s embrace them, confess them, and pray about them accepting our humble state. Then, we can expect Jesus to work powerfully through the imperfections.
If you’re skeptical, know this: he already has done this for you hundreds of times. Somewhere, you can look back at an imperfect situation and see how it turned out to be fine, or helpful, or even good. Reflect on his perfection and begin to expect it when imperfections capture your attention.