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Stepping stone or stumbling block

12 I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go13 Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. 14 I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed.15 All of us who are mature ought to think the same way about these matters. If you have a different attitude, then God will reveal this to you as well. 16 For now, let’s hold on to what we have been shown and keep in step with these teachings. (Philippians 3:12-16 VOICE)

Walt Whitman's words caught my eye this morning: "I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am good as the best." If we think on that one a little in light of what Paul says to us in the Book of Philippians, we might draw the conclusion that none of us has "arrived" at perfection yet, but we are gaining on our goal toward "perfect behavior". The Lord declares us "perfect" in every way simply because we are joined in fellowship with Christ Jesus the moment we say "yes" to him as our Lord and Savior. Along the way we discover we need to embrace this "perfect" way of living in each and every one of our actions - until all our behavior aligns with what God has declared to be true about each of us. Actions don't just automatically align with being declared perfect - we have to reign in the bad ones, practice the better ones, and repeat the cycle until the best ones are the consistently practiced ones!

Note what Paul tells us about those things we view as obstacles or roadblocks along the way - NOT ONE will stand in our way. Why? It is simple - we are in the hands of Jesus and he won't let us go! We all probably experience moments of frustration when our behavior isn't quite as it should be. It is like we beat ourselves up because "once again we failed" to do as we should, speak in a loving way, or exhibit the Christlike behavior we so desperately wanted to display when faced with that difficult relationship issue. We see these things as failures - I think God might want us to see them as stepping stones to discovering "perfection". Think about it - if you never experienced any type of failure, would you appreciate any type of accomplishment? I have known some seriously "smart" individuals who never failed a test in school, aced their SAT exams, sat their MCATs without missing a beat, and they still don't feel like they have accomplished anything.

I have failed more than one test in my lifetime - maybe it wasn't always a "classroom" test, but many other "tests" have been "assigned" to me and I just plain blew 'em! Those failures didn't stop me from "retaking" the test, though. In fact, they bolstered my determination to learn from what didn't work the first time and helped me to "change up" how I approached the test the next time. I haven't "arrived" at perfection when it comes to consistently modeling the behavior God wants to see in my life, but each inconsistency is an opportunity for me to move a little closer to realizing that goal. I use these as stepping stones, not stumbling blocks! You might just want to do the same! Stop focusing on those failed moments as stumbling blocks - begin to see them as stepping stones on your way to a goal you are certain (guaranteed in Christ Jesus) to achieve in his power and through his grace!  You aren't stumbling alone - you are also not stepping across those stones alone either. Just sayin!

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