The Perfect Life
The Love of God in Our Hearts May Be Perfect, Even Though Our Lives Fall Short of Perfection.
THE LESSON—That if we "hunger and thirst after righteousness," as did the Pilgrim Fathers, our lives, though imperfect, will be well pleasing to the Father.
Many of us are discouraged because we cannot, or do not, attain to the high ideal of life which we find before us. God's Word seems to bring comfort to the disappointed one by showing him that if he earnestly desires to attain to the highest ideal, his acts are well pleasing to God, even though he falls short of his hopes. In using the Pilgrim Fathers as an illustration, the talk is well fitted to the observance of Thanksgiving Day, but it is also appropriate for many other occasions.
"Any one of us who wants to find something beautiful about us, needs only to take a good look. Here, for instance, we may see a tall, straight tree. [Draw the tree, of Fig. 92.] And over here, nearer by, we may find a rosebush in bloom. [Draw the bush and rose.] And here is the sun shining in all its glory. [Draw the sun, using orange. Any suitable color may be used for the rose. The trunk of the tree should be in brown and the foliage in green. Draw the distant foliage, completing Fig. 92.] And as we look upon these things we may think of them as perfect in every way, because they are all God's handiwork.
"Let us take a closer look. We find that when the tree is cut down for lumber it is marred by many imperfections, and that a great deal of it has to be thrown away as useless. Somehow, we are a little bit disappointed in the tree, for we thought it was perfect. As we turn to the rose, we are reminded by a sharp pain in our fingers as we examine it, that the stems are covered with ugly thorns. [Add the thorns.] And then we notice, too, that many of the leaves on the bush are deformed and unshapely. As we turn to look upon the sun, we are dazzled by its brilliance, at first, and then we discover that even this brightness is clouded by spots which seem to make it imperfect. Then too, as we look away from it, we find that the sun, in its passage through the sky not only brightens many a dark corner, but it casts many a deep, gloomy shadow as well. [Draw the shadow of the tree, completing Fig. 93.]
"Well, now, wouldn't it be foolish for us to go about finding flaws in God's creatures, like this? Ah, yes. But it is just this way that some of us study our own lives. Just because we don't find perfection there, we are disheartened and discouraged, forgetting that God's Word is the authority for the assertion, that 'there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.' But we must not forget that other assertion which is equally true, namely, that they are blessed 'who hunger and thirst after righteousness,' and nothing short of this desire for godliness is pleasing to the Father.
"We have before us the inspiring, the ennobling example of the Pilgrim Fathers, who, denied the right to worship God after their own manner in their home across the seas, made the perilous journey to the new world to establish here the beginning of a mighty church and a mighty pattern for all who were to come after them. They were men and women who hungered and thirsted after righteousness. But were they perfect? No. It would be impossible to find, in the world's history a life in which some imperfection did not lurk? Should the discovery of faults and imperfections in ourselves or in others discourage us from trying to follow in the footsteps of the Perfect One? Surely not. We should see in the shortcomings of others an inspiration to live our own lives more closely to the measure which we know to be right and true. The knowledge of our own faults and imperfections should make us more sympathetic, more helpful to others and induce a spirit of comradeship with those who need a strengthening band on the pathway of life.
"We know, too, where to take these faults and imperfections of ours. How often has He answered the prayer, 'Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.' To become wearied, to lie idle and despair because we have not attained to the ideal is to commit a grievous error. Get busy! In true work for Him is the surest cure for the trouble. Faulty? Yes. But let us not forget the truth in Dr. VanDyke's words, 'the best rosebush, after all, is not that which has the fewest thorns but that which has the finest roses."
"Let us not lose heart because of our shortcomings, but give thanks that we may attain to the highest if we but do His will."
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