“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
—Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
We all know that volunteer firefighters “serve the public,” but that is not what I wrote. Oh, it’s what I meant to write, but somehow between my blurry vision and the spellchecker, what came out was public minus the “l.” Yes, THAT word. And I’d just printed and mailed a couple thousand copies of this firemen’s newsletter. Maybe I should look into the spelling of the word h-u-m-i-l-i-a-t-i-o-n?
After I stopped cringing over this embarrassing episode (ten years later), I began to see the humor in it. The customer had asked me to write a “feel good piece” for the community newsletter. Probably not what he envisioned. Well, me either, but what to do except laugh? The jig was up; the word was out: I was a mistake maker!
All that carefully polished perfectionism exploded by one missing “l.” There’s a lesson or two in here somewhere…
The writing lesson is simple enough. Be sure to have more than two sets of eyes on your work before publication. Although you may not like some critiques, many will prove helpful. And, of course, never trust the spellchecker to catch a mistake like the one I made in that newsletter.
The spiritual lesson runs deeper. It involves that old enemy of our souls, Satan. For anyone who is still confused about this, Satan is not a dude with pointy ears, pitchfork, and red tights. As Jesus understood Satan and his real power, so should we. See John 8:42-47 for just one of Jesus’ descriptions of the devil. Satan is in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, so how has he somehow become unreal to us? I’d say he’s doing a good job influencing our cultural perception of him. Flying under the awareness radar of most people is just how he wants it.
Perfectionism is Satan’s lie. He enjoys our misery in trying to achieve it, because he knows it cannot be done! Ha, ha. The joke is on us if we even dabble with this destructive time-waster. The main problem with this illusionary mindset is that it paralyzes us. The fear of failure becomes a failure in itself. The only way we truly fail is by NOT doing what God calls us to do. Doing life imperfectly is the only way it’s going to be done in this faulty flesh.
So, press on! We can imitate Paul as he spoke to the Philippians in today’s key verse. We have not achieved perfection, still we forget what is behind, and press on toward the goal for which God has called us heavenward.
A feeling of true freedom, indeed!