I freely admit that I was raised on both Bible stories and fairytales – by my pastor-father, no less😊. It’s interesting that there never was any confusion as to what was truth and what was fiction, what was the word of God and what the imagination of man. Instead, they were a useful tool in teaching that, in the end, good always triumphs over evil – hopefully 😊!

Of course, life itself is no fairytale, yet our digitized world relentlessly preaches the fiction that perfection is attainable, if only we have the right knowledge. It is loaded with glib self-help solutions to anything from escaping the abusive clutches of a so-called narcissist, to smoothing the wrinkles time scribbles on our faces. The message is relentless –knowledge, rightly applied, will give us perfection, a ‘happy-ever-after’. And the not-so-subtle deceit is that this perfection is all we need to make us not only desirable, but truly happy.

This is so different to the message preached by our Lord Jesus, and I am profoundly grateful for the fact that he surrounded himself with less-than-perfect people. As I read their stories, I see myself, my disobedience, my lack of courage at times, my puny faith, my whole life a shocking reflection of what it means to be “only human”. And then all I can do is fall to my knees like Isaiah and cry, “It’s all over! I am doomed, I am a sinful woman…”

BUT just when I am bent low in anguish at my own imperfection, the fiery presence of the Holy Spirit comes and with infinite tenderness he purifies without destroying. Instead, He breathes his fire on my short comings, and I experience the miracle of becoming a messenger of His infinite grace. The only perfection needed is perfect submission to him – the only true ‘happy-ever-after’, the joy of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit!

Frances Ridley Havergal said it so much better than I can:

Utterly abandoned

To the Holy Ghost!

Oh! The sinking, sinking,

Till the self is lost!

Till the vessel's emptied

Broken at His feet;

Waiting till His filling

Makes the work complete!