He Said – The Best and All the Rest
What is it that every high school football coach demands of their players? 110% The best! As much as or more than they can give. In an ideal world, we would all give our best in everything we do. But we don’t. There is the best, and then there is all of the rest. It is a matter of where we spend the best and what the rest is left over for in our lives.
I know that in my marriage, I fear that my best isn’t going to be good enough. I fear that it won’t measure up to my wife’s standards, the world’s standards or even my standards. I do want my wife to have the best of me, but a lot of times, she gets the rest of me. And when I am faced with an opportunity to step up and be the best, the fear creeps in and steals it from me. “You failed at trying to plan a date out last time.” “You aren’t going to say the right thing again, better not say anything.”
It is in these moments, when fear tries to lie to me and lead me down the path of the rest, that I need to stop, recognize what my best is in this moment and what is the rest. Then I can seize the best, let go of the rest, and give my wife the best I can in that moment. I might be tired and stressed from work, or I might be distracted by bills, or, I might be caught up in focusing on my needs, but these are things that I must categorize as the rest in the moment and give her my best.
What is my best? Or yours, for that matter? When we hear that, we hear that old football coach, “one hundred and ten percent!” “GO GO GO! MOVE MOVE MOVE! Harder HARDer HARDER!” Or we think of Prince Charming who does, says and looks everything right. These perceptions are actually a part of the rest and are something we need to get rid of.
My best in the moment, given everything going on at that point, is when I am acting or doing something that is growing me in the area that I need my best for. I may be tired and stressed, but when my wife needs to talk, I need to be growing in my ability to let the stress go, fight through the tiredness (after all, we all did that quite easily when we dated and spent many nights up late chatting with each other. We can do it here too.) and increase my attention span on what my wife is saying. This doesn’t mean we ignore our tiredness and stress, and we can communicate that to our wives so they know where we are coming from. What it does mean, though, is that we don’t get to use it as a get out of jail free card.
My rest, the part that I need to get rid of, are the fears of my past self showing up when I have now become a changed man. The rest includes the selfish points of view that only feed me, but don’t satisfy anything or anyone else. The rest is the comparing myself to others. We always tend to compare our worst with the best of others. This is a lose-lose situation. The rest is trying so hard in your own strength that you burn out and become even less effective.
Jesus tells all of us who are weary and heavy laden to come to Him and He will give us rest. And when we try to do things in our own strength, we become weary, we become heavy laden, and are burdened by our lack. Jesus promises that his yoke is easy. He asks us to join Him, let Him guide us, train us and be our strength. I can not think of a better way to bring my best for my wife than to have Jesus teach me. His love for His church is beyond understanding. I can’t comprehend the level or the power of His love. And by learning from Jesus, I will grow everyday, bringing my best for my wife.
But now, do I bring the best to Jesus? Or do I just bring the rest? The more of “the best” that I bring, the more I will grow and learn, then the more I can bring the best to my wife. The more of “the rest” that I bring will slow down my learning, may even stop it all together, and I won’t be able to bring the best to my wife. I will become become a sluggard. There is one catch here. If I bring all of “the rest” and then give it to Jesus to take from me, then, the only thing He has left to work with is the best.
“See to it that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused I’m who warned them on earth, much less will we escape it we reject him who warns from heaven. At the time his voice shook the earth, but now he had promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken [the rest] – that is, things that have been made – in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, [the best], with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:25-29 Brackets mine.
My best, right now, may not be loving my wife as Jesus loves the church, but my best tomorrow will be better than it is today. My best, right now, may not be saying the perfect thing at the appropriate time, but through prayer, God will give me the wisdom to say an encouraging word, give good insight, or even to know not to say anything at all tomorrow. My best at this moment may not be textbook perfect, it definitely won’t be 110%, but my best tomorrow will be an improvement from today.
Why do I know this? Because I have thrown the rest away, and the only thing that I am working with… the only thing that Jesus is working with is my best. He has started a good work in me and He is faithful to complete what He has started. I just have to yoke up to Jesus.
She Said – The Best and All the Rest
I love how God does things in us so that we can share them with others. It’s so easy to look at the world and compare. As a woman, I compare with other women. Younger and more athletic, thinner, wiser, better at cooking, better with home decor, all the things.
This past year, I took a Bible study that focused on the specific design of women from the Bible and how our sin has tainted God’s perfect creation. It has been a wonderful reflection on who God made me to be, who I am in this fallen world and the work Christ is doing in me.
Recently, I have been doing a lot of reflection on my life, my marriage, my past, my failures and looking ahead to my future. In moments of weakness, I doubt my husband’s love for me. I wonder if he will leave someday. I do my comparing and when I look at myself through worldly eyes, I don’t always like what I see. I had this thought the other day. “I wish I would have given Rob my best. I wish I would have done things differently with him in the past so we didn’t miss out on so much together.”
Have you ever had a thought like that? “I wish I had never done…this.” Or, “I wish I had never chosen…that.” Even, “I wish I would have trusted God when that happened in my life.” Have you ever thought about something that you would call a “mistake” in your life but looked at it with the eyes of the Lord? Did He make a mistake? Did He mess up when you did the “this” or the “that?” Let me tell you. He didn’t.
He has never made a mistake. Not one. But from my perspective, I have messed a lot of things up. I have doubted God and not trusted Him at times, which caused me to make decisions in my flesh. Even to the point of marrying someone because I wanted the attention of someone else!!! Yet, God did not make a mistake in allowing for those choices to be made. He was doing a work all along and I didn’t even realize it.
I took to prayer the thought that I had had about giving Rob my best. I was feeling sorry for myself by looking at age, or ability, or athleticism and in doing so, I was not looking at truth. God revealed something pretty awesome to me. As I was pondering all of this, He impressed upon my heart that I was giving Rob my best. The Lord brought to my heart that my best is actually now, not something of the past and long ago. My best wasn’t because I was 20, or 27, or 32 or 42. My best is having Christ in my life. My best is how God has changed me over the years from all of my past, all of my mistakes and all of my sinfulness.
Because Rob and I had a past with one another, then lived lives away from one another up until 8 1/2 years ago, we have a lot of junk that we could drag around. We have past hurts from each other and past hurts from others that get into the mix and cause us to struggle in our closeness with one another. There has been a barrier in my heart with Rob that also proves itself to be a barrier in my closeness with the Lord.
My mind can be filled with things that are technically true, but it’s all the accusatory failure thoughts. Something like:
I have failed Rob before.
I have failed God so many times.
I have made poor choices in my past.
I have been hurt in the past by Rob and others.
What I have come to realize is that all of my past has been part of the work God has been doing in me. None of it was a mistake and none was without His knowledge. I know that who I am today IS my best. It is my best for Rob. It is my best, thus far, for the Lord. Each step we take in life is a step closer to eternity and God wants to use all of our past, our mistakes and sin, to bring about His purpose and His glory through the change that takes place in us because of our relationship with Christ. He is doing this in me and He also is doing this in you.
Rob and I did something, maybe silly, yet it was symbolic for us. In recognizing that our past is just that; it’s past. We found two rocks and wrote “The Rest” and “Our Best” on them. Together we tossed “The Rest” into a pond and kept “Our Best.” What we have is the now and we can go forward knowing that today we can be and give our very best. We don’t have to compare with anyone and we don’t have to be whatever our false perception of perfect is. You get to be you and I get to be me. The best. And all the rest? We decided to get rid of it.
Paul says in Philippians 3:7-8, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
To count everything as loss, the good and the bad, that means it is now gone and in the past. We have been made new in Christ and in Christ we are at our best.
So for us, we chose to get rid of “The Rest” and know that we are going to keep “Our Best” for God and for each other. We haven’t missed out on anything from God’s perspective. And as we look forward to the continued work that He is doing in us, we can honestly say, “The best is still yet to come.”