I love to sew. But, my sewing machine doesn’t always like to cooperate. It is a pretty old machine. True, machines made back in the early 70’s when this Sears Kenmore machine was made definitely last longer than machines made these days. But, even well-built machines age, and my old Kenmore is starting to show its age. The bobbin winder sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. The tension gets out of whack very easily, and the hand wheel likes to come loose. Fortunately, though, none of those issues keep me from sewing. They just make me have to stop and troubleshoot more frequently than in past years.
As I worked through a recent sewing project and urged the machine along in its task, I couldn’t help but be thankful that it actually does still work, quite well in fact, despite its issues here and there. Thanks to this old machine, I don’t have to sew every stitch and seam by hand as seamstresses of old had to do. Thanks to the Kenmore’s endurance, I can actually watch the girls’ faces light up with delight as I hand them a new gown, dress, or skirt made just for them. I had time recently to make them summer nightgowns because I could spend a few hours on the machine instead of days working by hand. And, once the gowns were done, Olivia and I worked together to make a simple, but quite pretty, “wedding dress” for her sock doll.
So, even as I fought with a few difficulties on the machine, I was so thankful for it.
Thankfulness over this working machine is a good thing for me right now. But, taking that attitude about things that don’t work quite right isn’t always a good thing.
Think about it. That sewing machine was created to work a certain way and accomplish certain tasks. The truth is, it doesn’t work the way it was created to work. Because of age, it fails in some aspects of its created design.
How often do we fail in something that we were created to do? But, instead of striving to fix the problem, we compare ourselves to a lesser standard. We sit back thankful that we are better than someone else who fails at an even bigger task. We compare ourselves to the world around us instead of to the perfect standard by which we were created. The sad consequence is that instead of improving ourselves, we just keep on plodding through life just the way we are, believing that we are good enough.
The truth is that we are not aging machines. Our bodies might be aging and decreasing in their functionality, but our spiritual lives are supposed to be growing ever closer to perfection. It is not acceptable for us to sit back and compare ourselves to the faulty examples around us. We have to instead compare ourselves to the perfection of Jesus Christ and constantly seek to improve ourselves in an effort to live up to that example through the work of the Holy Spirit within us.
Even while I’d love to go out and buy a wonderful new sewing machine, I am exceedingly thankful for that old machine that has dutifully created project after project, knowing that each one would have been nearly impossible without the machine. But, I must refuse to take that same attitude about myself. I must compare my performance only to perfection and never be satisfied as long as there is anything less. An honest evaluation reminds me that this means I can never truly be satisfied this side of heaven. But then again, a diligent read through Scripture shows me that satisfaction this side of heaven isn’t what I’m supposed to look for anyway.