Unfinished yet Complete

13_19_4_web“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known” 1 John 3:2.

There is something in us that longs for completeness. Donald Grey Barnhouse tells this story: “The children of the great composer, Bach, found that the easiest method of awakening their father was to play a few lines of music and leave off the last note. The musician would arise immediately and go to the piano to strike the final chord.”[1] For many years, a house in a near-by neighborhood stood framed, but incomplete because the owners did not have funds to finish the building. I have many craft projects started but shoved aside and unfinished. We have all started painting projects at home or gardening projects in the yard, a craft project, a book we want to read (or write, as I look in the mirror) and stopped before the task was done. We run out of time or funds or energy or motivation. We lose interest and give up. I am so thankful that God is not like me, He has never started anything He did not bring to completion.

Consider creation. God planned each day the project He would start, and at the end of every day the Scripture tells us God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). At the end of creation week, after the earth and the heavens, the sun, moon and stars, plants and animals and human beings were made and all things were set in order, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (1:31). He set out with a purpose, to create the universe and all that would inhabit it, and He worked until everything was done. Psalm 33:11 says “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” He has a plan and a purpose and the power to fulfill everything He puts His hand to. He never leaves anything unfinished. And that includes you and me.

The question then is, “What is His plan for our lives?” I don’t mean the details of where we live, who we marry, what job we take or how we serve Him, although they are encompassed in God’s full purpose. But Paul tells us that God’s perfect plan is to “conform us to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29). His whole “project” is to make us into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. To make us walk like Jesus and talk like Jesus and live like Jesus and love like Jesus. This work is done through the Holy Spirit that lives in the believer as, day-by-day, God chips away at our selves to reveal more and more of Christ is us.   It is not easy nor painless. It is not a quick process or a one-and-done. It is a life-long daily transformation, that will involve struggle and heartache and we will often become weary and restless – unless we remember God’s purpose.

I look at my own life sometimes, all my starts and stops of Christian growth, all the vows I made to change my life for good (only to have to make the same vow again the next day and the next) and wonder if God has given up on me. Has He finally decided that I am just more trouble than I’m worth? Has He become frustrated with me (as I do with myself) and moved on to someone who is more capable, more intelligent or more “spiritual” than me? Is He just going to leave me here in this unfinished state?

The Bible assures us that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). God never takes on a project without knowing the full cost, the time and effort involved, and – most importantly – a vision of the end result. You see, when God picks up his brush and approaches the canvas of our lives He sees a completed portrait and every stroke of light and dark that He applies is done with the image of His Son in mind. Our perspective is vastly limited, but His is perfection. God knows “the end from the beginning” and He has declared “My purpose will stand. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned that will I do” (Isaiah 45:10, 11).

I remember a song I taught to the children at church once that I think is just as appropriate for adults.

He’s still working on me

To make me what I need to be

It took him just a week to make the moon and stars

The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars

How loving and patient He must be

‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me[2]

If you are frustrated because you just can’t seem to “get it right,” don’t give up on yourself. God hasn’t.

Holy Father, I am so thankful that You never give up on anything You start. You started working in me the moment You saved me, and You won’t quit until all You see in me is Jesus. I am Yours to mold and fashion according to Your perfect design. Amen.

 

[1] Donald Grey Barnhouse, quoted by David Jeremiah, Agents of the Apocalypse: A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times, (San Diego, Turning Point, 2014), 86.

[2] Joel Hemphill, He’s Still Working on Me, 1980, Hemphill Music Company/BMI

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4 thoughts on “Unfinished yet Complete

  1. An encouraging message. God is definitely not finished with me. I’m a bad “backslider” when it comes to studying the scriptures. Thank goodness God hasn’t given up on me!

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