You know how sometimes you just need to have the right tool? When I was growing up, I remember my dad always seeking out specific tools, power and otherwise, to do specific work. He loved woodworking, even later in life when he took up wood carving. He was, for the most part, self-taught, and frustrated that he couldn’t do what he imagined – if he didn’t have the right tool. When Christmas came around, he was easy to buy for – to say the least.
Mom cooked and baked and was always seeking just the right utensil or mechanized kitchen wonder. Now I know it’s considered poor taste to buy mom something like a vacuum cleaner, or a blender, for Mothers’ Day or Christmas…as if we males thought of mom as exclusively a homemaker…but I have to say that MY mom (who worked for the government, outside the home as well) was hardly happier than when dad and I would find her that one specific “thing” she dearly wanted for the kitchen…admittedly, it was a two-way street, as dad and I thoroughly enjoyed whatever that “thing” helped mom create in our mid-century-modern kitchen.
The other day I needed something very specific to, solidly but carefully, fix some loosened trim inside the house. I knew just the thing: a hammer I’d had for years.
This hammer is nicked, worn, it used to have bright red with gold paint on its handle. It is hefty, feels strong but has a perfectly balanced weight in the hand. The head of the hammer is still solid, but somewhat rounded over the years. It is, for me, the perfect hammer…and for this job, it was the perfect thing.
I purchased a new hammer once, thinking that I should. The handle was not wood, it was some man-made material. It was smaller and didn’t feel as solid or comfortable. I still have it, but it’s not the same.
I remember one Christmas dad and I were so pleased with ourselves about getting mom a new, “Avocado Green” blender to replace the large stainless steel one she had been using since the Truman Administration. It was perfect: shiny, a little smaller, and that new trendy color so popular in the 70’s. Mom was pleased…at first. Then, she discovered it wasn’t so “perfect” as it seemed…and it broke down, not able to handle the greatness of mom’s cooking. She went back to the old one…the one that did the work…the one that wasn’t “perfect” but “perfect” for her.
Like the hammer I have, newer didn’t necessarily mean better, or “perfect”.
When I think of my hammer, and the story of the blender…I think of the word, “perfect”. I think of the somewhat troublesome scripture from Matthew, one that has tripped up greater minds than mine: “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48).
Again, there are subtleties in the ancient languages that sometimes translate into less-sophisticated words in English. In English, in this time and place, “perfect” often means, “without flaw”. When stewing over Matthew 5:48 I knew the only time I would ever be “without flaw” was after I passed from this Age into The-Age-To-Come. So why does the scripture insist that I be “perfect” now?
Then I looked up the Greek word translated into our English, “perfect”. The word is “teleios”, and it certainly does not mean, “without flaw”. This glorious epiphany opened my mind and heart to the realization that God designed me for something, and when I do that something, I am “perfect”.
“Teleios” is defined as something that reaches “full maturity”, something that is “complete” – and the best definition I found was, “something or someone that behaves and works exactly as it was designed to do and be.”
Being what it is designed to be. Doing what it is designed to do.
My mom’s “perfect” and new blender actually DIDN’T do what it was designed to do – therefore it wasn’t really “perfect”. My hammer is far from “without flaw”, with its faded paint, and nicked head…but it is perfect for the job, it is perfectly balanced for my hand, it works well with me.
“Be exactly who you are created to be, just as your Heavenly Father is exactly who He is supposed to be.” – Perfectly suited, flaws and all.
‘The best thing about my hammer, aside from its “perfectness” for me? It was my father’s.
What my Father GAVE TO me is “perfect” FOR me.