by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman
On the way to our Weight Watchers meeting, my daughter and I lamented over all of the slip-ups (O.K., deliberate cheats) we had committed over the past month since last weighing in. But rather than shame us, stepping on the scale brought instant relief; we were shocked to find we had not gained a thing. I even lost a pound and a half!
One thing our lecturer always stressed was that persistence is more important than perfection. I need to hear that over and over again, for I am a legalistic dieter. Once I cheat, I usually count the rest of that day and even sometimes the entire week as a total loss. And spend those lost days eating whatever I want–not especially conducive to weight loss! Instead, I need to put the slip-up behind me immediately and get back on the plan. Persistence wins the battle. Even in the light of a profound lack of perfection.
I wonder if the writer of Hebrews had this principle in mind when he penned, “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1 NASB)
I am no expert in running. But I do walk. And I can tell you with great authority that if you don’t keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will never get to where you are trying to go.
Does God expect perfection as we move forward?
Well, God called David a man whose “heart was fully devoted to God” (1 Kings 11: 4 NASB). Yet we know that David was far from perfect. He planned a murder and had an adulterous affair. So why would God describe him as fully dedicated? I believe it is because the general direction of David’s life was toward intimacy with the God He loved.
The Connecticut River flows from north to south through the heart of New England. If you were to get into a canoe somewhere between Vermont and New Hampshire, and let the current take you, eventually you would end up in Long Island Sound. Now if you were tracking your progress with a compass, this might not always seem to be the case. At times, as the river curved, you might be moving eastward, westward, or even northward! But the general, persistent flow of the river would eventually carry you into the Sound.
That is a great picture of persistence. Moving in a general direction, despite the twists and turns your life might take.
Jesus compared following Him to traveling the Narrow Road. Perseverance is crucial to the traveler walking in faith. As we walk the Narrow Road, there are potholes and uneven spots along the way. We may even stumble and fall from time to time. Yet our forward progress continues as long as we get back up, brush ourselves off, and begin moving again. And eventually, we will reach where we are aimed.
Don’t get discouraged about your lack of perfection. Just be persistent.
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12 NASB
About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to
understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.
Join the conversation: How do you keep yourself on track?