“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
—Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)
In first grade, my teacher gave me an assignment to paint a poster- size picture. Every day I spent part of my recess time staying inside and working on it. But since I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I made little progress. One day my teacher came in to see how much I’d accomplished and exclaimed, “This is how much you’ve got done?”
I can still remember how hot my face felt and see the disappointment in her eyes. I thought I’d done well, but realized at that moment how slowly I had worked. She wanted to cultivate my talent for drawing, and agreed to let me continue, but begged me to “pick up the pace.”
I wasn’t afraid of the teacher, so what was I afraid of? Imperfection. I wanted the picture to be perfect. I wanted to do it right so badly, I agonized over every stroke of the paintbrush.
I struggle even today with that same fear as a writer. I want the words to be perfect. And to think the Lord is using me? Oh, my, how much more right do they need to be if I am speaking on
behalf of my Lord?
When I think of something as perfect, I envision something without any flaws. And we read in the Bible we are supposed to be perfect. Matthew 5:48: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.(NIV)
But how can this be? We are not perfect. If we were, we wouldn’t have needed our Savior, Jesus Christ, in the first place.
Perfection, as used in Scripture in regard to our everyday life, means maturity and completeness.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Matthew 5:48 says, “It is the duty of Christians to desire, and aim at, and press towards perfection in grace and holiness. And therein we must study to
conform ourselves to the example of our heavenly Father. Surely more is to be expected from the followers of Christ than from others; surely more will be found in them than in others.”
And to that statement I say, “Amen!” There is more expected of us, and there should be. We are writing for the only one who IS perfect, and ours is a life of example. I don’t want to be a baby in
Christ. My desire is to be a mature believer aiming for a higher standard of excellence so my Lord will be proud of me.
One of my favorite verses is found in Psalm 138:8, “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.”
God will help us become the writers, painters, the artists, He would have us be.
In first grade, I fretted over every paint stroke, and now? I
struggle with keystrokes. Perhaps fear is keeping you from writing or ministering in some other way. Maybe you’re like me, always reaching for perfectionism. It’s easy to think even good is unattainable when agents, editors, and assorted professionals hand out rejections on a regular basis.
It was a great comfort to me when I acknowledged there is only one who is perfect, and God uses plain, ordinary, flawed people like you and me. As our Master, God loves us and uses us by the power of the Holy Spirit to do His work on earth. It’s an honor to be used by God in any way, but if He allows me to be one who can convey words of wisdom, or comfort, or peace while here on earth, I’m humbled, yet elated, at the thought.
- Donna J. Shepherd, children's picture book author and inspirational writer, has hundreds of articles and devotions to her credit. Her writings appear in Daily Grace for Women, Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms, and The Best Grandma in the World to name a few. Her children's books feature short, playful rhymes and humorous illustrations. Donna is founder of Greater Harvest Workshops and Middletown Area Christian Writers, and in demand as a Bible teacher, conference speaker, and singer with over thirty years of experience. Visit Donna on the web at http://www.donnajshepherd.com.