by Christina Stolaas
I’ve never considered myself a perfectionist by nature. However, as I grow closer to Jesus my failures seem to persistently antagonize me. Despite how many “things I do right”-- the actions I focus and internalize on are my shortcomings. My weaknesses! The inconvenient truth is the closer I get to Jesus—the more of them I count.
Not patient enough. Easily angered. Swears too much. Jealous. Inconsistent. Lies. Ungrateful. Questions God. Selfish. Doesn’t read the bible enough. Inadequate prayer life. Won’t forgive. Won’t obey. The list could fill pages. Literally. My failures are enormous—they are constant. But, my God is bigger!
As I walk closer with Jesus the blinders are peeled from my eyes so that I am more and more aware of my need for a Savior! I know without the mercy and grace of Jesus I would be lost. My sin is ever present! I understand what I deserve! Death. Punishment. Eternal Separation. I am beyond thankful for unmerited favor--beyond thankful that I cannot earn my way into heaven by deeds.
But somehow, I think I’ve missed the boat. I have trouble recognizing the cross and it’s full sufficiency. Sometimes I get so swallowed up in my failures that it’s as if I need to be saved over and over and over again. Instead of running to the cross and letting God claim my imperfections and deficients, I run from it! In my own shame, in my own embarrassment—I hide.
What I am learning is that it is not my job entirely to hang on to God. In fact, if it was I would have been in a hopeless and irredeemable state a long time ago. He is hanging on to me eagerly. He loves me too much to let me go. He knows my failures, He knows my weaknesses, He knows my heart will question and even argue at times—and yet He died for me. He knew I’d be messy, but never considered me a liability to His cause!
But it doesn’t stop there. He not only died TO save me, He wants a relationship WITH me. Not just when I pray the right prayers, or read my bible enough. Not just when I have successful days. Not just when I am a “good” witness or example as a follower of Christ. He wants me IN my weakness. In the middle where my own efforts result in failure—this is where God’s powers is showcased the most. When I can’t, He can! Where I won’t go, He volunteers to walk with me! When I am afraid, He gently says “fear not” and leads the way!
Grace isn’t meant to be concealed. Grace is meant to displayed! Not just once on the cross, but everyday, every hour through my life. My life is meant to project God’s grace and favor even as a sinner. By clinging to my shame I am choosing to reject the cross. By clinging to my perfect Christian facade I am rejecting the authentic and transparency Jesus desires for my life. By clinging to my pride, I am failing to give the cross the glory it deserves.
When my efforts at behavior modification fall short I get discouraged. I feel like giving up. I feel unusable. I’m not who “I want to be.” I can’t seem to “do it right.” But God isn’t all that concerned with the “destination of my life!” Why you ask?! Because He already knows it! In fact, I really ought to know it as well. God says He’ll finish the good work He’s started in my life. (Philippians 1:6) Finish it! Not continue working on me until I fail for the umpteenth time. Not continue to work unless I push Him away. Not continue to work until I feel like giving up. No, God says, “I’m going to finish you kid. “
It’s not an ideal scenario or one that as a Christian you should merely hope for. Rather, the bible says...Be confident, I WILL finish what I’ve started in your life. But, not today. Not tomorrow, not next week or the month after. That’s what I’m learning... it’s not about the destination. He WILL finish me! He’s already promised it. God doesn’t break His promises, never has, never will.
When I spend all my energy looking at my failures and beating myself up for my pitfalls I miss out on being a part of God’s plan. If I hide my gifts, talents, and God given calling until I have it “all together” then my time on this earth will be wasted. I won’t be perfect until He takes me home. Today God has gently said to my heart,”Let me worry about finishing you! You just keep moving. Keep seeking Me. Keep Listening for My voice. Keep getting up when you fall. I am the perfecter and finisher of all things!”
Do you believe God will finish you? If not, what holds you back from that belief?
Christina is an energetic mom to four adorable young kids. In her free time she enjoys writing, training for roads races, and passionately pursuing a deeper walk with Jesus. Through a rough childhood she has learned to earnestly trust in the Sovereignty of God and seek to be "fruitful in suffering" as God continues to mold her to His likeness and bring beauty for ashes! (Isaiah 61:3)