Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Philippians 3:12-16)
Recently I was reminded that God isn’t done with me yet. I love it when God chooses to remind me of this fact because too often I judge myself harshly as if I am a finished product with all my flaws and failings. I get down on myself because I somehow didn’t measure up to Christ’s example. I find myself guilty of being less than perfect and condemn myself to self-loathing for my faults.
But that isn’t what God sees when he looks at me. He sees a masterpiece in process. Too often I get impatient with God in his handiwork. God is Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel of my life but I want him to be Bob Ross painting happy little clouds in my world and filling the canvas of my life with a beautiful landscape in 30 minutes. God doesn’t work like that so it’s good to remember that he isn’t done with me yet. This is true whether I am languishing in a valley of my faith or in those moments when my heart is bursting from a mountain top experience.
God’s not done with me yet and he will never get to a point where he is so frustrated with how I’m turning out that he scrapes me completely. As someone who has striven to become proficient in a multitude of artistic endeavors, I can tell you that I’ve had lots of practice in recognizing when it’s better just to throw out the old flawed mess and start over with new materials. Still I can rest easy because I can be confident along with Paul that he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6)
This artistic endeavor of God’s to create in me a new spirit and to mold and train that spirit into his own perfection and righteousness is a time-consuming slow process. One which he lovingly and patiently adheres to so as not to push me past the point of scraping. One thing I’ve learned from my artistic hobbies is that the more skilled I become at a particular art, the better I am able to redeem the work and save it from destruction. This is why I can breathe a sigh of relief—because God’s skills are perfect and the only sacrifice he makes is of himself in bringing new life and beauty to his creation. God’s not done with me yet.
This doesn’t give me a pass to sit idly by and do nothing. It doesn’t give me an excuse to do as I please. God created me to be involved in the process. I need to work at being the best me I can for him. I need to forgive myself and move on when I fail miserably. I need to strive to be the woman of God he created me to be. I need to let go of who I was and what I did yesterday so that I can be and do what he has prepared for me today with my eye on the glory of the finished masterpiece he has in mind for me tomorrow.