‘This time he
found he could look straight into the Lion’s eyes.
He had forgotten his troubles and felt absolutely
content.’ (C.S. Lewis)
Someone pointed out a place to me last year in the
Faroe Islands that has apparently remained resistant
to the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It happened as
the result of a group of over zealous believers
paying a visit fifty years ago, claiming that they
could walk on water between two islands. Their
waterlogged feet not only made a nonsense of their
boast, but created a spiritually blockage that has
yet to be fully overcome.
Without falling into the pits of condemnation, we
need to face the fact that whenever we claim that
the Lord has spoken, when reality He has done
nothing of the sort, we risk setting up a stumbling
block that others may trip over.
At the same time, John and Paula Sandford remind us
in The Elijah Task that none of us graduate in the
school of listening with our pride intact. God
allows even those who are seemingly very mature to
fall over from time to time, if only to keep them
from taking undue pride in their giftings or
achievements. If our hearing were perfect, we would
quickly become unbearably complacent. Others would
undoubtedly start looking to us to provide instant
oracles, instead of seeking the Lord for themselves.
We must humble ourselves, therefore, admit our
mistakes, and, if at all possible, do our best to
put matters right. It is the enemy who wants us to
remain crushed by the memory of the times when we
have got things wrong, and it is perfectionists who
refuse to allow themselves (or others) to make any
Perfectionism is a faulty model because it makes us
strive to be or to achieve something that God never
intended for us. To have high standards is entirely
praiseworthy, but perfectionism is doomed to
futility – the devil keeps advancing the ‘finishing
tape’ a few meters ahead of our efforts to reach it.
Trying to live up to such misguided conceptions is
like saying we want to run a four-minute mile in
four kilograms! It means we are using all the wrong
measuring rods. We risk being forever at the mercy
of endless compulsiveness until we recognize it as
an enemy tactic, and the very opposite of grace.
May the Lord help us to see how and why such
obsessiveness developed in our lives. May we not
‘worship in graveyards’ by looking to find
inappropriate fulfillment with the wrong people and
the wrong pursuits. May He recalibrate our spirits,
too, away from the pitfalls of perfectionism so that
we can be more open to the leadings of His Spirit.
For Reflection and Prayer
|| If I
cherish iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not
listen to me . . . Confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and
effective. (Psalm 66:18, James 5:16)
If we find that we
cannot rise above these tendencies and strongholds,
we almost certainly need the help of someone who is
less emotionally involved than we are. To quote my
paraphrase of a well known advertisement: ‘The
prayers of others can reach the parts our own
cannot!’ The question is, will you let them
close enough to help?