The Ink Spot
Well, today was our first day back in reality. Janet and I both awoke early (I think we are still on London time) and I started to think about all the errands I had scheduled for today. The cleaners, post office, car dealer (for an oil change), hardware store (to replace a refrigerator light), physical therapy for my back (which I do monthly) and finally, an appointment to check on how my back and feet have done while trying out new shoe inserts.
When I arrived at the office, I noticed that one of the clinicians was inking a large pad used to create imprints of feet and how well arches are responding to changes in support. It was quite a manual process. First the ink goes on a brush, which is then drawn across a porous surface, creating a reservoir of ink that adheres to paper as a person steps across the surface. The images are then compared to earlier versions to check the progress of various treatments. The clinician wore gloves and did everything she could do to prevent the ink from spilling on her – including wearing rubber gloves. She was a pro…
I was immediately reminded of a story from 6 or 7 years ago when I was finishing seminary. I had left the corporate world and was attending school full-time – in fact, I was nearing graduation. Janet and I had gone through almost everything we had in the world, and I was trying to figure out how to make ends meet. After my ordination, I figured that the best thing to do was to perform wedding ceremonies and funeral services. Now, mind you, neither of these events pay very well, but I was desperate and so I visited numerous bridal stores; in the hopes that brides looking for dresses may also be looking for someone to marry them.
I received a rather warm reception, and several stores said they would pass out my fliers if I could supply them to the stores. Well, that was great – except for one thing – we couldn’t afford to have fliers printed. So, after I designed them on my computer, I decided to print them myself. In fact, in order to keep the costs down even further, I decided to re-fill the ink cartridges myself, after being assured by the cartridge store that filling used cartridges was really easy, and anyone could do the job.
So, with high hopes, I bought the ink in bulk, purchased additional used cartridge cases and set up shop in the garage. I even had rubber gloves to keep the ink off my hands and clothes. Let me tell you – it is not as easy as you think. You can’t tell how full the various reservoirs are; and you have to make sure to put the correct color in each compartment of the cartridge. Now I should stop at this point and let you know that I am fastidious when it comes to being clean and organized. Those of you who have been to my home know that the garage is just as clean as our home. I sweep the floor weekly, have everything in its place and keep my tools very organized. It’s just the way I am. So I am sure that you can sympathize with me as I share with you that filling these cartridges was more demanding than I thought it would be.
I was moving along fine, and then it happened…I overfilled one of the cartridges and the ink started to spill over on the workbench and, eventually, the floor. I was frantic. I had worked so hard to keep the garage spotless and had bought everything one can buy to keep the process as simple as possible. But there it was; a somewhat large teal ink stain on the concrete floor of our new home. I mopped up what I could with a towel and then noticed that the ink was not coming up from the floor – in other words, I was staining the concrete with the overflow. I pulled out all kinds of cleaning solvents and even went over the stain with my wire brush to get it off the floor. No luck.
I was really angry with myself. How could I do something so stupid? Then it hit me – I did it because I am human – and not perfect. But it still annoys me that it happened. Now, years later, the stain is still there – in an otherwise clean garage. I even went out there as I started writing the post this evening, just to see if the stain was any smaller – it isn’t.
Today’s verse, from Paul, was an easy one to choose, from 2 Cor. 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” And I am once again reminded that God doesn’t expect me to be perfect – that’s not going to happen in this life.
My encouragement is that you will also recognize your human limitations. You will make the same kind of mistakes that I made – maybe you will even become annoyed with yourself. But you are also human, and we all need God to get us through. And when we have our deficiencies, God can use them to advance His kingdom on Earth. My prayer is that you will realize that God’s grace is sufficient for us – we don’t need to be perfect – because He is. So, relax, and try not to sweat the small stuff. I know it’s difficult, but it does help to put things in perspective – and when you need things to be perfect, it is best to look up! Grace and Peace…