“You may not understand why He leads you now in this way and now in that, but you may, nay, you must believe that perfection is stamped on His every act.”Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
I remember one year ago, waking up on my eighteenth birthday. I crept downstairs in the dark early hours, made a cup of coffee, wrapped myself in my Charlie Brown blanket, and sat on the couch where I could sit and stare at the Christmas tree. I took my glasses off, because my favorite way to look at Christmas lights is when my vision is unaided, and my near sightedness takes control, blurring the colors into a magnificent display of light and wonder. Then I just sat. And stared. And dreamed.
What a big deal. I was finally a woman, or so I thought. Ready to tackle whatever the next year held. I felt sure, ready, and very confident. I felt like I always imagined being a woman would feel like. It was wonderful, but strangely unsatisfying. The day was lovely. Everything I wanted and more. Then I went to bed, ready to embrace this new year. Oh, how little I could see from there. I had no idea what was coming.
The next year, the one that draws to completion today, was everything I never imagined it would be. In fact, it was the hardest one yet. I could sum it up by simply saying, “I don’t understand.”
I didn’t understand why I had to leave my beloved childhood home and all its sweet familiarities. I didn’t understand why nightmares and anxious thoughts kept me awake most of the summer nights. I didn’t understand why I got so close to some sweet little boys I nannied, and then was forced to painfully say goodbye. I didn’t understand why finding a new church family was so hard and took so long.
You see, they weren’t big things. I feel ridiculous writing about it, because I know people that have endured and continue to endure far worse things, and at the end of the day, this year wasn’t really that bad. But God used even the compilation of these little trials to teach me big truths, and that’s what this post is about. The truth God has shown me, not the size or details of my struggles.
I read Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss early on in the year. It wasn’t my first time reading it, but it was probably the most meaningful time reading it. The quote that has stuck with me through the year is the one you read at the opening of this article.
“You may not understand why He leads you now in this way and now in that, but you may, nay, you must believe that perfection is stamped on His every act.”
Time and time again throughout this last year, I prayed, “Lord, I just don’t understand.”
Time and time again, those words came to mind.
You must believe that perfection is stamped on His every act.
Really? Perfection? On every act? It doesn’t feel that way sometimes.
You Must Believe, Not Understand
Is there perfection when you must lose things you held dear?
Is there perfection when you feel alone?
Is there perfection when your heart is broken?
Is there perfection when you can’t sleep at night because of anxious thoughts and overwhelming fear?
Yes, dear friend. Yes, there is truly perfection. That is what I’ve learned this year. That is what I will learn again this coming year. That is why the Lord stripped away my false assuredness, preparedness, and confidence.
Often we believe that we are more mature, when we know exactly what is coming. When we prepare. When we are confident in our skills. When we feel ready. The opposite is true though. Maturity comes, when we don’t know what is coming, when we don’t understand, but we believe that perfection is stamped on His every act. When we trust that He is working, even when we don’t see exactly how.
This morning, I started reading Habakkuk. The story of a man who just didn’t understand, but desperately wanted too. He wanted to know why and how what was happening was really for good. Do you know what the Lord said to him?
“Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”Habakkuk 1:5
It wasn’t for Habakkuk to understand, in fact God told him that even if he knew he still wouldn’t understand. It was simply for Habakkuk to believe that God is good. That God is sovereign. That God is working in His own time. That God is worthy of praise even in his uncertainty. That perfection is stamped on every act, even if he didn’t see how.
Sometimes, you won’t see how this current problem, darkness, dilemma, or hurt is perfect. But you don’t have to see how you just must believe that it is. God’s plans and His ways are higher than ours. There may be times when you don’t understand, and you just don’t want things to be the way they are. But, just like Habakkuk, it isn’t yours to understand. As Amy Carmichael said, “We are not asked to understand, simply to obey.”
He calls us to trust Him. To trust that He is good. To trust that everything He does to us, is done in love and with a wisdom we are incapable of comprehending.
To Be a Real Woman
I thought to be a woman was to be sure enough, ready enough, confident enough. I was mistaken.
The Lord has taught me, is teaching me, that to be a woman, is to believe that there is perfection stamped on every act. The ones I’m unsure of, the ones I wasn’t ready for, and the ones where I don’t feel brave enough.
To be a real woman is to be humble enough.
Humble enough to realize I’m not in control. Humble enough to realize my plans are not always the best ones. Humble enough to live joyfully in uncertainty, trusting that the One I know and love holds my tomorrow, and that is enough. Humble enough to admit when I have made mistakes or am not as ready as I thought I was. Humble enough to know that to be a real woman is to be more dependent on Christ, than on my own abilities to understand.
So this year, I feel like I’ve lived more. I’ve learned more. I’ve messed up more. I’m not the woman I thought I was. But I think this year, I at least understand who the woman I want to be is, and so I will pray. Pray that He would humble me, and help me to joyfully live, even in uncertainty, believing that there is perfection stamped on every act. Because that is the kind of woman I want to be one day.
He is good, friends. So very good. And His plan is truly perfect.