Progress Not Perfection:
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." (James 1:2-3)
If I could add one more word to this phrase, it'd be patience. Progress and patience, instead of perfection. Now, coming from a perfectionist herself, I have to admit that it's very difficult to enforce this way of thinking.
Performance and perfection have migrated into the centre of our focus over time, and all they want to do is drive us into the ground with labour and work. Too many people have allowed achievements and accomplishments to morph into the basis of their hope.
We can't live anchored off of our own efforts and strength. It's impossible for our own frail flesh to carry us through the roaring waters of this unpredictable life. Circumstances are capricious, and the foundations built upon worldly matters are faulty.
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Jesus has spoken, and this is the great news He has promised for us. He's given us everything we need to overcome the world - Himself. He is truly all we need. Jesus didn't say, "In the world you will have tribulation, so you'd best get your act together and work, work, work your way to a better life." Of course not! Jesus said, "...be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." He has overcome the grave, and obliterated sin's power!
Your next inquiry may be, "How do I know if I've overcome this world? I know Jesus has overcome, but what does this mean for me?" This question is best answered with Scripture.
"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:4-5)
See now, it's not about how well we can do. No amount of doing or earning can save us. It all boils down to Jesus. Only He can save, redeem, and provide perfect peace and overflowing joy.
I realise the verse above says that our faith is what has overcome the world. However, this doesn't mean that we ought to start believing that we must have copious quantities of faith in order to be saved or earn God's love. Far from it! Remember what Jesus tells us, that's really the best thing to do in any and every situation.
"If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you." (Luke 17:6)
The Lord's divine power is not dependant upon our strength. The Holy Spirit doesn't rely on our faith-tank to minister the hope and peace we so desperately need. When we hold up to the Lord even the most minuscule sized faith grain held in marred and crippled hands, He sees that, and He blesses that.
Do you know why the size of our faith doesn't make a difference? It's because when we focus on how much faith we can muster up, it takes our eyes off of the Faithful One and onto the fallible self.
Remember, we're not the ones who can save, redeem, and set free. When faith is focused inward it brings fear, because no matter how far we dig, we can't build up enough "self confidence" to transform the miry pit in which we have fallen.
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
We must believe that HE IS, not we are! Faith that is God-seeking instead of self-searching brings blessings, hope, and peace. Faith isn't something to be used only in the most detrimental situations. Faith is a relational quality that is to be revered and cherished day in and day out, because it's simply so amazing that the Lord of the whole universe takes the time to touch our outstretched hands and out poured hearts.
Trials and tribulations need not invoke fear in your life, but rather give you a sense of closeness to God. Through every battle and rough patch, we're given the divine opportunity to press into God, hear His heart for us, and experience His restorative power. He will use anything that the enemy intends to use for your destruction, and flip it around to work in your favour. Amazing!
"And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." (James 1:4-6 ESV)
Today, let's be completely honest with ourselves and with God. All on our own, we don't have what it takes to live on the path of peace. The good news is, because Jesus has given us His Holy Spirit, we now have everything we need to live a life of constant companionship with Christ.
He provides peace, He fills our cup to overflowing, and He restores the broken hearts. Trust Him.
Trusting is a hard thing to do when the idol of control is blaring for your devotion. Remember however, the Lord longs to give your soul rest.
God desires your undivided heart, and He won't mistreat it either. He only desires to fill you with all that is good, pure, and holy. In Him there flows a river of abundance and joy. Trust, my dear friends. Let's fall back into His arms today.
-The Introverted Evangelist
Photograph Taken By: Raphael