Saturday, March 4, 2017
I wouldn't exactly call myself a perfectionist. However, I like to strive for perfection as much as possible. I believe if you are going to set out on any endeavor you should do it whole-heartedly. No one is satisfied with a mediocre outcome. Most every success in life comes from practice. The practice part has always been difficult for me. I want to reach the final outcome "right now". When I don't reach that outcome within the first few times I tend to want to punish myself for failing or falling short. That is NOT realistic. Granted, some need more practice time than others. We have all seen the videos of the amazingly gifted, very young children who sit down at the piano and play a piece of music that would take many adults years to accomplish. Success is as individual as our God-given DNA. Growing up, I loved to play baseball in the middle of the street in front of our house with my big brother. He would often tell me "Barbara, you throw like a girl" and proceed to show me how to throw properly. That of course, was his opinion. During the game, the manhole was the pitchers mound and we would place various items around to be the bases and of course, home plate. I wanted to be the best I could be. Mostly, it was a lot of fun. In my early 40's I joined a co-ed softball team and again, I wanted to be the best I could be for myself and the team. We would go to the batter's cage and practice and practice. I loved the challenge of hitting that ball as hard as I could. The balls would come one after another, after another. You couldn't let down or become weary or your body would be receiving the impact instead of the bat and of course, the ball would fall to the ground or pass you by. At that point, I would again punish myself for being a failure and pummel myself, so to speak, for being so inept. So goes life. We need to learn that the only way to become perfect, or as perfect as we can, is "practice, practice and more practice". I want to address the subject of our FAITH. James:1:2-4 speaks to us of the trials we all go through. None of us are exempt from trials... Believer and Unbeliever alike experience them. Although an unbeliever may have a different definition. As Believers, we learn to understand we can rejoice in those trials because we are given the opportunity to "practice" steadfastness. Holding firm through the trials as well as allowing God's attributes to be released through us in the midst. First step is "Abiding in the Vine..." John 15. Verse 5 tells us that we can do nothing "apart from Him". Hebrews 12:1&2, we see that Jesus is actually the "Author and Perfecter" of our Faith. He wrote the "Faith Book" so to speak. If you read the Bible, you learn that as a man, Jesus practiced faith and learned obedience through the trials he suffered. He can fully relate to our humanity. He was fully man yet fully God. Now he is at the place of Honor at the right hand of the Father's Throne! May we humble ourselves before him and learn of him. In light of the fact that He is the Author and Perfecter and we are not, we can continually come to him during practice to ask for HIS help, counsel, comfort, patience, forgiveness, encouragement... all the things that a perfect Master has to offer his Disciples. We learn that there is no condemnation, reproach or criticism charged to us and we can practice and learn in a safe environment free from guilt and shame. We can stop criticizing ourselves when we don't achieve what we think we should have in a particular time frame. We run all our practices through the filter of God's love and he will determine His will for our lives from day to day. That is all part of becoming "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (in regard to the Faith)". James 1:4. I like to look this way at the opposition to our success, the accusations thrown at us from the enemy of our Faith, as the baseballs coming from that machine in the batter's cage, and the bat, as the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. As we hold up the Shield of Faith and swing the Sword, we not only repel the lies and accusations, we extinguish them by putting out their fire and rending them ineffective in keeping us from "leaving the elementary doctrines of Christ and going on to Maturity". (Hebrews 6:1&2) So, let us take advantage of every opportunity and learn through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the Ministry Gifts he has given and "practice" becoming "equipped for the work of the ministry and the building up of the Body of Christ until we ALL attain to the unity of the FAITH and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:12&13. So, you are not alone... Run with me and the rest of the true Runners. Let's not focus on our weakness but on His strength in our weakness. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 The final perfection will be when we stop "seeing through a glass dimly and see FACE to FACE"! I Corinthians 13:2. By, in and through the Powerful Name of Jesus Christ! So be it!