I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
- Philippians 3:12-14
Perfection. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be perfect – to get everything right? I don’t know about you, but I have tried to be perfect my whole life. I remember hearing a verse when I was a kid that said “Be holy as your heavenly father is holy”. My interpretation was, “Be perfect or else”. And from that moment on I have been on this journey to get everything right.
I feel like this is the journey a lot of Christians are on. We feel burdened to be holy. We get disappointed when we mess up, when we say the wrong thing, look at the wrong thing, even think the wrong thing. We feel guilty, ashamed and unworthy.
This is not how it’s supposed to be.
One of the things we need to learn how to do on our journey to perfection is forget. The apostle Paul says, “I have not achieved it (perfection), but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize…” Paul learned the art of forgetting. It’s like flipping a switch, going from dark to light. Forgetting our past, our sins, our imperfections is the KEY to achieving perfection.
Let me illustrate. My son Cade is a perfectionist. He wants everything to look and feel right. He works hard at school and on his homework. If it’s not right he can’t handle it. So, when he told me he was going to play quarterback for the Jr. High football team it completely surprised me. You see Cade is not a football player. He’s a skinny, awkward, junior high kid that has no business being on a football field. He’s a perfectionist trying to do something that he CAN’T be perfect at. But he played anyway.
So I went to his games and I watched him sit on the bench. Then finally one evening our team was winning by enough points that they put my gangly son in at quarterback. I could tell he was nervous. I was nervous, all his friends were nervous, and you could feel anxious anticipation in the stands. And Cade dropped the first snap! But he recovered his own fumble. He handed it off a couple times, then he threw the ball…
It was a completion!
To the other team.
They ran it back for a touchdown, and my heart sank in my chest. Our team got the ball back, and Cade ran back on the field. This time he handed the ball off a couple times and then threw it again…
To the other team.
When it was all over we won the game, but Cade didn’t win. After the game, he walked slowly across the field with his head down. Defeated, discouraged, and frustrated he looked at me and said, “Dad, I was terrible.” I tried to make light of things, but he was so focused on what he had done wrong that nothing I said helped. Then, the switch flipped.
There was a group of cheerleaders standing behind us, and they caught Cade’s attention. Suddenly his frown turned into a sly, half-smile. He stopped talking and he walked toward them. There, in the middle of the cheerleaders, was a girl with a poster. It had Cade’s number and his name on it. She was holding it up and saying, “Great job Cade!” His half smile turned into a big smile when he took the poster and gave her a hug.
He had completely forgotten his mistakes. He had turned his attention to something better. For a junior high boy I don’t know that you can get any better than that!
We all make mistakes. We say the wrong thing. We lash out to those we love. We cheat and lie and steal. We are SO far from perfect. And so often we focus all of our attention on those things.
There’s something better!
There is a heavenly prize. There’s a savior holding a poster with our name on it. There’s a better tomorrow. There’s forever perfection waiting for us. So, let’s flip the switch. Let’s forget about our imperfections and fix our eyes on the prize. I guarantee it will turn your discouraged, frustrated frown into a BIG PERFECT SMILE!