Ideal Is Not Real. Jesus Didn’t Wait for the Ideal. Neither Should We.

I’m a quitter. Always have been.

My mother tells me that, when I was younger, I would play with blocks, and if the tower I was trying to build gave out on the first attempt, I would just quit and do something else. And as I look back at my life, I would say that I continued that trend. I can’t tell you how many books I started writing and then quit because they weren’t going how I wanted them to. I’ve thought about dating a number of girls but chose not to even pursue it because I thought it would bomb.

There are a number of things in my life now – including a beautiful young lady – that are changing my mind on my quitting ways. It’s forcing me to confront something I’ve been terrified to confront for a long time.

Ideal is not real.

For so long in my life, I wouldn’t do something unless it was exactly how I pictured it to be, entirely complete and perfect. And when things would get difficult, the first thought was “I should quit.” Relationships, jobs, classes in college, blog posts (reading and writing), books (reading and writing), movies (watching).

In response to this, a few months ago I began a daily reminder on my phone. It’s Proverbs 3:5, which says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” It buzzes on my phone every day at 8 a.m., around the time when I start work. It’s a reminder to me that, even if things aren’t completely making sense with what’s going on or they’re super hard or annoying or difficult, I need to rely on God’s provision and where He’s placed me in life.

It reminds me that I don’t need to wait for everything to feel right, for everything to be “ideal” before I move forward with something.

See, particularly when it comes to ministry and romantic relationships, I think there’s this notion in the current evangelical culture that things need to be a certain way before you embark on either. If you’ve got a certain sin, you’re not qualified for either. If you haven’t dated “long enough,” you shouldn’t get married. If this, if that. We wait for this “ideal” situation to come along before we take a “step of faith.”

Thing is, if we wait for it to be “ideal,” it’s not a step of faith. If we’re going to take the Hebrews 11:1 definition of faith – “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” – waiting for the ideal all the time is not trusting God.

Now, there’s times where waiting for the ideal isn’t a bad thing and might even be wise. But if it’s how we live our life, we just might be missing out on something awesome God has for us.

And we can take our cue from Jesus on this. Romans 5:6, 8:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus didn’t wait for us to be perfect before He came. He didn’t wait for us to have all our crap together before He came to earth and lived a perfect life, died and resurrected Himself. He just came at the right time! In fact, I think it was our lack of being ideal that made it the “right time” for Him to come.

I’m not saying throw yourself into every situation ever just because you might want to. Obviously I need to think and pray carefully about decisions I make. But I don’t need to not do it or quit what I’m already doing just because it’s not “ideal.”

Because let’s be honest – rarely is ideal ever real. We live in a broken, screwed-up world. We’ll never run into something that is perfect. Ever. Perhaps God is putting me into imperfect situations so I can rely on Him to work through them.

Maybe now I’ll go back and finish that tower.