“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
refers to our human ability to turn our backs on God and commit sin. It reminds me that nobody is perfect.
Every day, people across the world, I suspect, read and recite Proverbs 46:10. “Be still and know that I am God,” it says. This verse has for me always conjured up a vision of people literally being still with their bodies. Of quiet and prayerful contemplation. Of opening one’s heart and spiritual ears to hear God’s words. For He is God. He is in control. Everything is under His charge. It is a reminder that we must take time out to spend time with God, to listen and discover His will in our lives. Upon reading a friend’s blog, I came to have a completely different understanding of this verse. Don’t get me wrong. Quieting our minds & bodies to hear God is not only a valid interpretation of this verse, but supported throughout the Bible. This is something we should do. However, when I read a friend’s blog entry, she had chosen to use the NAS version, which says “Cease striving and know that I am God.” A light went on, a piece of the puzzle fell into place. Sure, I had heard that version before, but this time God gave me a clearer understanding of “cease striving.”
Cease: quit, stop it, cut it out! Striving: exerting strenuous effort, battling, struggling, working hard. Aha! God wants me to stop struggling, to quit working so hard. No, I’m not saying I believe God’s desire is for me to sit around eating bonbons and not do any work. Quite the opposite. God wants me to put forth effort for Him, according to His plan for my life. To help people come to know Him. But to do so effectively, I must have proper focus, not distracted by those things that would keep me from taking and making bold steps for Him. For many people, myself included, one of these distractions is perfectionism. God wants me to stop working so hard in a futile attempt to be perfect and let Him do the work on me. I just go for the ride, taking comfort, relaxing, if you will, in the knowledge that He is doing a good work in me, in His time. In His perfect plan, I will have been trained and will be prepared for each task He has for me. I am not perfect. I will never be perfect in this life. It is only through the blood of Jesus that I can be made perfect. Not from my own doing, but from His death, I am made perfect. And that’s okay. Everything will be okay.
We perfectionists can get so caught up in what others think and end up trying to see ourselves through their eyes. Are we accepted? Good enough? We need to get rid of what we think others want from us and even the “to do lists” that we think the Bible is giving us. We do need to “be still”, we do need to take time out to focus on God and worship the Almighty to recognize God’s will in our lives. But we need to throw away our perfectionist perspectives and look from God’s perspective.
Why should I work so hard at trying to do everything perfectly when I will never succeed? Why should I not give it to God, who is perfect and can sort it all out with no effort? I will have my part to do, of course, not the least of which is to try to trust His plan and promises. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t give my best effort at whatever I do, but I don’t need to count my worth, my value, my life, my salvation or any other such things on the result of my efforts. The result of my efforts might not be perfect, but through Jesus, I can be. Be still says stop a minute, take time out of your day. Cease striving. Well, that’s quite a different connotation, isn’t it?