In October, 2012 I suffered a devastating fall from a tall ladder onto unforgiving concrete. Despite the best efforts of good surgeons, I live each day with unwanted limitation, imperfection, disability and discomfort.
The falls of life, either literally or figuratively bring limitation to us all. The critical thing is to understand the purpose of collapse and crushing and to know how to respond to them.
On almost a daily basis I find myself wishing that having sustained various injuries and following prayer and surgery, I could be ‘over it.’ But I’m not.
Adding to the mechanical limits caused by the replacement of bone with steel and the “after market” installation of screws and pins is the ongoing experience of a congenital heart disease called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or ‘HCM’ as it is typically abbreviated.
Jacob ‘wrestled’ with the Lord and noticeably, conspicuously limped for the remainder of his days. A limp is an indicator of limitation, of frustration, of imperfection and finally, of surrender.
Two years prior to the ladder incident, I underwent a complex surgical procedure to alleviate a condition that should already have killed me. At the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, my heart was removed and detached from my body to enable Dr. Hartzel Schaff to carve out an enlarged muscle that was preventing the heart from doing its job of pumping blood into and out of the organ.
Following my surgery, Dr. Schaff informed me, “I removed the muscle that has blocked blood-flow, but you still have the disease.” I didn’t fully appreciate the gravity and full meaning of those words then, and only with time have I begun to understand and to accept my ‘new normal’ as opposed to my “old normal.”
Through the cross of Jesus, God has removed the influence (our sin nature) that blocked the flow of life, but until we are made fully and divinely perfect, we still have the disease (of being human and error prone)
I often, with or without exercise become almost completely breathless. If that sounds romantic, it’s not. It’s downright frustrating; sometimes scary; always unwelcome when my lungs are screaming for air and my pulmonary system refuses to respond as it was designed.
It’s very much like the feeling of having run a 100 meter dash. You know the feeling: Your body bends at the waist; your hands jut out to grasp your knees. Your chest heaves with the activity of refilling lungs with life-giving air. You’re dizzy, and the atmosphere begins to blur and to fade. That’s the way I often feel; but without the running. And it’s frustrating. It’s restrictive. It’s uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s actually scary. And it’s an imperfect way to live.
But that’s my life. It’s yours, too: Imperfect. Partial. Limited. Flawed.
Maybe your limitation and frustration isn’t caused by a heart disease that you contracted by being born with flawed DNA. Maybe your limitation and frustration is caused by something else. Maybe your limitation is your fault. Maybe it’s not. As we eventually all discover, and as Alexander Pope observed: “To err is human.”
The apostle Paul was human and imperfect even as he strove for divine perfection. He called his limiter, his frustration a ‘thorn.’ He testified, speaking of perfection (resurrection), “Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature …”
And he isn’t the only Good Guy of scripture to have experienced imperfection. Moses lived the bulk of his days anticipating his entrance into a land that flowed with milk and honey. He never got there. He saw, but he did not possess his heart’s desire.
Jacob, of Old Testament fame wrestled – a graphic and apt but somehow unsuitable sounding word to the religious-minded crowd who want squeaky clean, unsoiled, and so largely untested biblical heroes. Jacob ‘wrestled’ with the Lord; a messy, sweaty business and noticeably, conspicuously limped for the remainder of his days. A limp is an indicator of limitation, of frustration, of imperfection.[4
What’s your limp look like? What’s your limitation? Your frustration? We all have one. Or two. Or more. Where did your limp come from? How did it come to be?
David, Samson, Peter, James, and on and on the list goes until it includes you and me and everybody we know – none of us gets through this life without challenge, difficulty, failure. None of us is perfect. None of us can claim that we are without imperfection, limitation; without the limp of life.
Paul’s resume’ doesn’t stop with “Not that I have reached the goal (of resurrection from the dead – consider this not physical death, but dying to himself, to his “old” nature and dying to the world that he might be raised in newness of life), but he writes to the Philippian church, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
The power of the resurrection cannot be known without our first becoming conformed to death.
We will never know perfection until we have tasted imperfection. We cannot experience full ability until we are intimately familiar with inability.
In Old and New Testament terms, we can’t know the value of Grace until we understand the weight and the price of the Law.
We were all, every one of us born “in sin.” We entered this world with a fully functioning “sin nature.” In our original, seemingly innocent condition, as sweet, little infants, we each arrived with a proclivity for iniquity.
The purpose of our imperfection is to both reveal to us and to lead us to “that which is perfect.” And “perfection” has a name; it’s a person, and his name is Jesus. Paul’s explanatory continues: “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it (perfection), but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.”
My imperfection then is engineered by God’s own hand to produce, eventually, perfection. My limitation is designed to encourage and to enable me to press forward. John Wesley explains it as being “stretched out over the things that are before – Pursuing with the whole bent and vigour of my soul, perfect holiness and eternal glory. In Christ Jesus – The author and finisher of every good thing.”
Wesley is careful not to ascribe the effort, the struggle, the process of perfection as the result of our own, valiant and persistent effort. His final, victorious declaration reveals that it is “Christ Jesus (in us) – The author and finisher of every good thing.”
Simply put, we cannot, by any measure of effort or valiant struggle or dogged determination be made perfect. “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
No wonder the words of the Apostle ring loud and clearly through the ages until we find them resounding in our own hearts, “the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Perfection is achievable, attainable, reachable, only as we give way so that He can have his way in our lives, through our imperfections, in spite of our inadequacies, despite our limping, wobbling weakened conditions. So long as it is “Christ in you,” there is more than hope for your tomorrow; there is promise, divine promise, from the God who will never leave you, or forsake you and who cannot, in any sense, fail. 
The Hebrew writer discloses concerning those faithful saints of history, all these died, and “none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
And until then? Until the day of perfection? Until then, we see in part, we know in part, we live in partial fulfillment of the promise that surely, one day will be achieved and we shall be presented, without defect or flaw, before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy —“
 2 Corinthians 2:7-10
 Philippians 3:12
 Deuteronomy 34:1-
 Genesis 32:22-32
 Galatians 3:24
 Wesley’s Explanatory Notes
 Philippians 2:13
 2 Corinthians 4:7
 Galatians 2:20
 Colossians 1:20
 Hebrews 11:39,40
 1 Corinthians 13:9
 Jude 24,25
Thank you for such a wonderful insight and message Greg. I am humbled whenever I experience the brilliance of your prose. I pray for your health and well being, and wish you a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year with Gods Blessings upon you my friend.
I am enriched by the friendship God has allowed between you and me, Michael. I miss seeing you on Sunday mornings and pray that one day, before we step into heaven we’ll see each other again. Merry Christmas and God’s best to you in the New Year.