As I was trying to understand this, I thought of Baby. Anna received Baby on her 1st birthday. She was just one of many presents. Nothing special. She cost $3 at Walmart. Today Baby resides in my dresser drawer, but for 4 1/2 years she was my daughter's constant companion. When your child is admitted to the hospital you have to fill out a lot of forms. One of them always asks the question, "What does your child need for security?" I always wrote, "Me and Baby." I wasn't always there, but Baby was. (Except the time we left her at the library or the times she was hidden under the covers and we had to frantically search for her.)
Because we were afraid of losing her or having her fall apart, we tried several times to replace Baby. I even found a doll exactly like her that soon became known as "Baby's sister." The other dolls weren't good enough. They weren't Baby.
This week I bought another $3 doll at Walmart just to compare her to Baby. The new doll comes with a bottle, and toys all packaged in a shiny plastic pink backpack. Her clothes are clean. She is wearing a hat. Her skin is smooth and unmarked.
Baby's hair is matted from being twirled around Anna's fingers over and over and over again. She sports patches on her neck and arm--sewed on by a kind nurse who specialized in fixing dolls as well as little girls. Her clothes are nubby and worn from repeated washings. Her skin is mottled and there are pen marks in her ear. Her thumb sports chew marks from when our dog was a puppy. There's a hole near the top of her right leg. The hat she came with is long gone.
If you ask me what the two dolls are worth, I would tell you that the one in the package is worth the price I paid, $3. Baby on the other hand is priceless. The one in the package will be given away or end up in a garage sale or returned to the store. Baby is one of those things I would grab if my house was on fire. She is that valuable--not because she looks perfect, but because she was made perfect through love, through suffering, through time. Jesus was perfect when he came to earth--he was God. Then he was made perfect through suffering.
You see, there is more than one way to be perfect. You can be without flaws or you can perfectly fit the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose. Baby has flaws, but she was exactly what Anna needed. Jesus was without flaws and he fit the need for a certain purpose.
Our goal in life is not to be like the new doll and stay in the box. That's not the kind of perfect that Jesus modeled. To be like him, we must learn to stand firm in the midst of suffering. To be like him we must be willing to be broken. How much is untested faith worth? About the same as a perfect doll sealed in a plastic wrapper. In this life you will have problems/trials/tribulations, but trust in the one who got out of the box and came to be tempted just as we are, suffer just as we suffer, and was made perfect--just as we are made perfect through faith in Him. Some people may look at your scars and your brokenness and see nothing of value. But God looks at you who have pressed on through the storms of life and stood firm through the testing of your faith and sees perfection.
So your goal is not to avoid being broken. Your goal is to be made useful, complete, beautiful, and perfect in the hands of the One who holds you.
"I got Baby on my first birthday. I always holded her by the hair. But now she's not very pretty like she was when we first got her. Now she's sort of messed up and not very pretty anymore. But she's still special to me. She goes wherever I go and she's still good. I still love her and she's always the best doll that I've ever had." (Quote from Anna, 4/26/2007)