by: Staci Stallings
And now we come to the part of the song that can sound a lot like condemnation if you’re not walking in the Spirit. Why? Because in seven short lines, Casting Crowns manages to bring into sharp focus Hebrews 4:12:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
These lines get at the very heart of sin, and they make you really stop and think about what you’re doing, how you’re living, what you’re striving for and after.
They are tough, make no mistake because they hold up a giant mirror to how we’re living. Are we living out the First Commandment? Is God #1 in our lives, or has something else taken over?
It didn’t take them long to get that sword into me. The first line does so about as well as any:
“Leave it all behind,
Your pursuit of perfection.”
Anyone who has read this blog for more than a couple posts knows the struggles I have had with the demon called Perfection. Typical of how Satan tricks well-meaning people, he got me by the throat with this one. He convinced me that God and everyone else would never love me or think I was worth anything if I wasn’t perfect.
Then he sent people into my life to shun me for being perfect (or trying to be). I was on this tightrope all the time–working myself into the ground to be perfect and trying not to let anyone know it.
I remember the first book I published, the hero has come face-to-face with his demons of arrogance and pride, and he’s realized how lost he really is. I had written something about the hell he was in. My editor at the time said, “Don’t you think that’s a little harsh? I mean, he’s not really in hell…”
I changed it.
I shouldn’t have.
Perfection is one of those hells we fall into when we’re eating off the Tree of the Knowledge of GOOD and Evil. We get the message that God will only allow perfection in His Kingdom and somehow miss that Jesus was and is our Perfection. God never meant for us to try to be perfect–only to rest in His Perfection.
But oh, did I go to GREAT lengths to prove myself worthy and worth it.
How many journal entries did I make growing up that said, “Why can what I do never be enough? Why can I never be good enough?”
For about 35 years, I was in hell, and looking back, that’s exactly the term I would use.
Someone told me this morning about someone who had had a near death experience and had “seen hell.” He said it was a dark place where you felt “pulled down,” where you screamed but no one heard, where you struggled but no one cared. Sounds pretty accurate to me, and I don’t think we have to wait until the other side to feel that way.
Laying the pursuit of perfection down was one of the hardest things I ever did because with it, I had to lay down the attempt to win approval from those around me.
I so remember when this understanding first became clear to me. I didn’t know what to do with it. If I wasn’t getting approval from others, where would it come from? Or did I just put on “I don’t care” and wall around my heart?
The answer is no. And the “answer” is not a thing. It’s a Person. A Person Who died and went into hell to rescue you out of it. He was Perfect so you and I don’t have to be. When we choose to take His hand and let Him stand in our place before the Throne of God, our “pursuit of perfection” is a blurry, tear-and-mud stained mockery compared with His, and He doesn’t even care! That’s how much He loves us!
So today, if you struggle with pursuing perfectionism, it’s time to go to the well and lay that down. Sit with Jesus for awhile so He can tell you just how much He loved you–no perfection needed!