Fear of not being good enough. Fear of imperfection.
Well, I’ll be. They really do have a diagnosis for everything don’t they?
Whether we like it or not, I think we’re all somewhat fearful that we don’t match up to who we think we should be , or what we think others expect of us.
We could always do more.
Work out more.
And when we fail to meet our own expectations, we bring the hammer to our head for not measuring up to who we think we ought to be. This is especially true for me.
I constantly find myself stuck in a rut of feeling guilty for not doing more or if I’m not on top of things.
And even though the Bible says that we can’t earn God’s love or salvation by our works or by praying enough, reading enough, serving enough, exc, I am frequently caught in unbelief, thinking that I can somehow “wow” Him enough to make an exception to that truth. So, in seasons where my prayer life is scattered, my discipline to read my Bible is just not there, and I just don’t feel “put together”– I tend to get really upset with myself because if my works are insufficient or not where they could be, then subconsciously, that equates to God loving me less.
These thoughts were running through my head as I woke up on Monday morning and the more I thought about my unbelief the more I kept questioning, “Why can’t I just get it?! This is so elementary– 10 year olds get this! Why can’t I just understand it’s not about me and quit doing this?”
So I sulked in bed, like a little baby.
And in the silence between my mumbling, God began to take my mind back to this ridiculous thing I did one time when I was a little girl.
__________________________________________________________ I was about 9 years old and I had just worked up the courage to try out my mom’s new Christmas present: a paraffin wax hand dip! If you have no idea what that is, its like, a MEGA Scentsy (but it doesn’t smell good) and you stick your whole hand in melted wax to moisturize them and help with hand cramping… or something therapeutic like that. Because I was still nervous to stick my entire hand in this burning wax, I settled for dipping each finger into the pot and boy… I was so proud! One evening, I had just finished one of my “finger treatments” and I removed all of the wax casings of my fingers and had them sprawled out on the floor. Moments later, I heard the ice cream truck music slowly getting louder and louder as the truck came down my street.
” MOOOOM. Mom! Please!!!!!”
(She already knew what was coming…)
Frantically, I’m running around my house trying to find extra change because dang it, I want some ice cream! Unluckily for me, there was no change in sight.
Overwhelmed and so disappointed, I sat down and sulked because YET AGAIN, the ice cream man would not see my face today.
Then it dawned on me.
“Aaahaaa! Maybe I can trade these wax fingers for an ice cream!! YES!!”
So I put my genius plan into action, swooped up my ten wax finger casings, and ran all the way down the street to find the ice cream truck stopped at the corner. Nearly breathless, I managed to tell the ice cream man my plan of trade.
“Hello! So, I don’t have any money. But I was thinkin’ that maybe… I could give you these wax fingers… all TEN…for an ice cream bar? It can even be the smallest ice cream you have! Plus, these are my own fingers–Made of wax! Ya know, you can even fit them on your fingers because they’re a little stretchy!”
The ice cream man so graciously smiled… then he laughed at me.
“I’m sorry sweetheart, I cant’ do that for you. I can only take money.”
After a few minutes of trying to convince him it was totally a good trade, I finally walked away, wax fingers and all, back to my house with no ice cream.
After reminiscing on this past time, I began to see why it was He brought my mind to this silly old memory.
At the time, I was really dumbfounded why the ice cream guy didn’t think my wax fingers were as cool and valuable as I thought they were! Better yet, in my mind, it wasn’t like I was asking for a HUGE ice cream that was like 6 dollars, no! I would settle for the .50 cent ones if he would just give into the trade! The truth is, I could’ve stood there for hours, turning blue in the face, pulling out my best tricks, dance moves and songs to try and get myself an ice cream cone, and I still would have got the same reply, “I’m sorry sweetheart, I can only take money.”
This is because I wasn’t offering the right kind of currency to make the exchange.
In the same way, the currency that we try to offer God, whether it be through our works, our money, or our actions, does not work because it isn’t the sufficient currency. It never can be. It’s just as ridiculous as trying to give an ice cream man grubby wax molds!
The one and only currency to pay for a rightness with God was the sinless life, death, sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and when we believe in the sufficiency of what He’s done, repent of our waywardness, and turn to Jesus and follow Him, His identity becomes ours. That rightness that Jesus has with the Father becomes ours too.
We no longer have to live life in the same way people did in the Old Testament where they had to incessantly go through purifications rituals, animal sacrifices and numerous offerings to temporally atone for sins. But all of those things were merely foreshadows of what Jesus would conquer, complete and restore for all time and for all people.
Hebrews 10:2-7 says:
“For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly
year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered?
For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all,
and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins…..
It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.’
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.”
The only currency worthy enough to purchase our salvation, our rightness and restored relationship with God– is Jesus and HIS works alone. Human effort has never nor will ever meet the standard of holiness and perfection that God is and requires of those who wish to draw near to Him.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” -Ephesians 2:4-5
It is our faith in Jesus and what He’s done that makes us right with God. And because of our faith, good works should flow in combination with and out of faith. Both are essential. (James 2:26) For some reason that childhood memory of trying to pay for ice cream with paraffin pieces showed me the ridiculousness of trying to earn God’s love by performing well or having it all together.
I love how simple, yet complex God has made things.
Simple enough for a child to understand, yet complex enough to mask every mind from fully comprehending the wonder of who He is.
True comfort and peace is found when we realize that our insufficiency is no longer counted against us, but that our identity is found and hidden in Jesus.. And all that He is and all that He has done is enough.