I’m told I approach life like a perfectionist. I don’t know where anyone gets that idea *triple-checks this article for errors*, but it IS true that I sometimes look at spiritual growth as an achievement to master rather than a relational goal (and I really should know better by now than to pray for improvement in certain attributes. “Lord, I need more patience…wait, no, I didn’t mean I actually want to be made to WAIT for things.”)
To a point, this works – so long as I remember it’s by God’s strength and not mine that the growth occurs. Perfectionism CAN be a boon, you naysayers!
But do you know what my perfectionism doesn’t yield?
See, trust has to do with surrendering control into the hands of another. I find this difficult, even in matters where I have no control to begin with. Give a situation to someone else – even your own Savior – and you don’t know HOW things will turn out. No thanks; I’d rather keep matters gripped in my grubby little claws, even if all I do is agonize about them.
I often feel justified, too, because to me these circumstances are MOUNTAINOUS and not something I could just hand over. What if releasing control makes it worse? What if God has weird plans I won’t like if I surrender this problem to Him?
But then…have you ever noticed how certain Biblical accounts really put your own failings into perspective?
In the Book of Daniel, there’s a well-known story of three Hebrew men who were thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow to King Nebudchadnezzar’s golden image and thus defame their God, so the King threatened to subject them to barbecue. I find their response to him remarkable:
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods, or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18
We know from the rest of the account God did show Himself and protect them from harm, but just think: They were determined to stand by their faith even if God let them die. Their trust didn’t hinge on the outcome, but on the Provider of the outcome Himself. They said their piece and then laid everything in Jehovah’s hands.
What kind of trust says, “Even if He doesn’t”? Especially in the face of death? I can’t even surrender the smallest fears.
Still, there’s been a change as of late. Each time I clutch a concern and fret its inconvenient existence, the Holy Spirit arrives and declares, “It’s not up to you.” It’s like a reconditioning bop on the nose. And boy, does it seem like I’ve been given opportunity upon opportunity to practice this trust (what’d I tell you about praying for growth?). Many times – even in this past year – I’ve been faced with a challenge I couldn’t control, and I’ve had to say, “Even if you don’t change it, God, I’ll trust what You have in mind.”
I mean, it doesn’t come as EASY as that, and it’s nowhere near levels of “fiery furnace” faith; but maybe, bit by bit, I’m being made perfect in this imperfection (achievement unlocked!).
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