Beautiful, Not Perfect

Photo by Alice Achterhof on

You Are Fearfully And Wonderfully Made For God’s Purpose

by Eric Elkin

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands.
— Psalm 138:8

My father taught a high school Sunday School class for most of his adult life. He would use art projects to encourage creativity and conversation among the teens in his classes. It was one of the most creative ways to engage youth I’ve ever seen.

Several forces were working against him in using arts and crafts projects in Sunday School. First of all, most of the students were not there by choice. We act like teens not wanting to go to church or engage in religious education is some new phenomena. It is not. Add to this that most males tend to see crafts as a “girl” thing.

Still, every year he would introduce an art project that would take about four weeks to complete. The initial reactions of the students were predictable. Females tended to be eager; males tended to scoff and make fun of the idea. It would take about 20 minutes for everyone to engage. By the second class, students were so lost in their work, they forgot to hate Sunday School or church.

Reflecting back on those projects, the key to success was the projects never demanded perfection. It was the 70’s and using natural cords, and tying knots produced a surprising amount of different objects. If we had painted, it might have been a different story. 

I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.
— Jackson Pollock

A multitude of wine and art studios have opened across the country. Guests are given a glass of wine and an existing picture to paint. Ultimately, these studios use art for the same reason my father did. Art projects produce a stimulating conversation. The difference with paint is it calls attention to our insecurities.

One would think with an image to copy and instructions on how to use the paint brush, it would be easy to produce art. But it is not all that easy. Matter of fact, it can be quite tricky. If you were to listen to a group painting, you would hear a lot of self-rejection. “Mine looks terrible, but yours looks great.” “I can’t do this like the picture,” or, “I just screwed this one up.”

The painters who thrive are the ones who are comfortable doing their own thing. They change the colors a little. Add features not included in the original. They also see the inconsistencies in the final product as part of their signature on the project. 

Truth is all human beings enjoy creating something. Some are artists, others builders, engineers, or auto mechanics. We like getting our hands on material and creating something reflective of ourselves. At the same time, building draws out our deepest level of insecurities. A voice speaks in our minds, “Will people like what I have created?” "Will people like me?"

This same battle seems to be raging in the mind of the psalmist this morning. The writer is confident in God’s love, yet, fearful God will abandon the art project. God’s purpose was not to create perfection, but beauty. You have been formed by the hands of the Almighty and crafted to find peace in your maker. 

We find peace in God because the Creator is less critical of the final product than we are. Give thanks to God because you are fearfully and wonderfully made to fulfill the purpose God has for you -- to be beautiful, not perfect.


Click to read Psalm 138

Reflection Questions:

  • Where do you build or create in your life?

  • What is your craft project of choice? The thing you do for joy?

  • How critical are you fo yourself — in work, in play?

  • Is there a difference between beauty and perfection? If so, what is i

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