Progress, Not Perfection

View of the right side of the backyard garden from the lanai.

Few things bring me more joy than spending the morning in my gardens. My home sits on a small village lot. When the back garden overflowed a few years ago, I removed the grass in the front yard to make room for more plants. Now, the gardens engulf my home on all sides like a tropical flowering mote separating me from the cares of the world. It is an oasis. There is no grass on my property. The tropical garden fills the entire lot. Narrow paths, topped with crushed shells, meander from the front around the sides to the back.

When I am puttering in the gardens, I do not think of my schedule for the day. The office is far away. Worries fade to a blurry background as I focus on tending the plants. Usually, I begin at sunrise while the heat and humidity are lower. I putter for an hour or more. Then, at the moment it starts to feel like work, I head inside for a cup of coffee. This way, I never have to work in my gardens. I putter around until the enjoyment fades, and then I call it a day. And yes, I’m aware that puttering officially makes me an old-timer.

Now, a garden is never finished. Never. For just when you think you have it perfected, you discover a weed peeking out from behind a bromeliad, hoping you will not notice it until it has a chance to spread its seeds far and wide. There will always be one more weed to pull, one more wandering vine to corral, one more palm frond lying on the ground patiently waiting to be collected and hauled to the street in bins. So I’ve given up trying for perfection. I’m content with progress.

This morning, a fresh flush of Crinum lily blooms perfumed the air with a sweet fragrance. I paused, breathing in the scent, relishing the quiet as the low morning sun backlit the flowers. As I stood there, it occurred to me that a garden is a lot like my relationship with the Father, a work in progress, never quite reaching perfection, but blessed with the fragrance of his presence always near.

We will never reach perfection in our relationship with the Father. Not in this life. Like a garden, there will always be one more issue to address, one more area to tend. It is the nature of being a child in a relationship with a father. And if our focus is on perfection, we are frustrated by our inability to achieve it. But the goal is not perfection. The goal is progress.

The old hymn, “In the Garden,” beautifully describes this relationship with God in the context of a garden. Here’s what the author wrote:

In the Garden

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me, and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

And He walks with me, and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

Words and Music by C. Austin Miles, 1912.

Join me in the garden. The Father is waiting to spend some time with you there. Give up striving for perfection. Instead, celebrate progress in your relationship with him. Pause to consider the ways you’ve grown. Consider the kindness of the Father on your journey. Rest in his grace. Rest in his care.

Focus on progress, not perfection.

Ministry Update

The new book, Sitting on the Lap of God, officially launched last Saturday. I celebrate this important milestone. I am grateful to reach this point. What now? I am working on the audiobook version and expect to have it available sometime in July. Then it is a process of slowly getting the word out through social media, podcasts, book clubs, etc. I expect to focus on this resource for at least the next two years.

You can help by leaving a review on the Amazon page. If you could take the time to leave a review, it can help others to discover the resource. Click here to go directly to the Amazon page for Sitting on the Lap of God: Discover the Father You’ve Always Longed For.

In the book, I explain how my growing relationship with the Father has come about. It is the most transparent I have ever been about my failings and struggles as I sought healing. I believe that by sharing my struggles, many people will find encouragement for the challenges they face. Ultimately, the love of the Father utterly transformed my life, and this is what I want others to discover as well. This hope of introducing the transforming love of the Father to a new generation is why I wrote it. And this is why I hope you will read it and share it with others. The Father longs for each of us to know him, to experience his transforming love in our lives.

Antarctica Update

I enjoy meeting via Zoom with other team members who will deploy to McMurdo, Antarctica, this fall. It’s fun to meet the people I will work with and share life with on base. I am in the final stages of getting PQ’d (Physically Qualified) for medical clearance. I’m waiting for the medical staff who oversee the Unites States Antarctica Program to review my test results. PQing is an essential step in the process of working in Antarctica. I had no problem PQing last year, so I am hopeful I will be approved this year with no issues. I should know more in the next week or so. I will keep you posted. If all goes through, I expect to deploy at the end of September to work October through February at McMurdo.

Thank you again for your ongoing support and enthusiasm for the new book. You are a blessing! Remember, if you have time, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you!