When my son was in high school, he ran cross country all four years. A typical race is 5K (3.1 miles). Yes, he ran. A lot. Willingly. He would not disagree when I say that cross country athletes are a different breed. I was always content to just watch. I enjoyed the beautiful courses, the weather was usually lovely, and the race was always over in less than half an hour.
But one of my favorite things to do was to read all of the t-shirts. Each team had their school name/mascot on the front, but usually had a funny, pithy, clever saying on the back.
“Run to the Roar”
“No half-times, no time-outs, no breaks, no substitutions. Welcome to cross country.”
“If you can read this – I’m not last!”
“Cross Country – Our sport is your sport’s punishment.”
“Where the pavement ends, cross country begins.”
“I run better than the government.”
“Why is everyone chasing me?”
“To catch me, you gotta be good. To stay with me, you gotta be fast. To pass me, you gotta be kidding.”
“Oh, you’re tired after a 200 meter dash? That’s so cute.”
At the first meet of the season, it was always fun to read the year’s new shirts. They always brought chuckles, nods, and looks of affirmation.
My son’s senior year, the quote on his team’s shirt was simple: “Never let good enough be enough.” I have thought about this quote a lot. Doesn’t it really mean to do your best? What is our best? Is it enough?
I don’t think it is. Because when I do MY best, I am leaving someone out of the picture. God. Does He really want my best? If I look at scripture, the answer to that question is a resounding “NO!” Listen to what the prophet Isaiah says about our best in the first part of Isaiah 64:6 (Amplified Bible). “For we all have become like one who is [ceremonially] unclean [like a leper], And all our deeds of righteousness are like filthy rags…”
Ew, gross. Think about that. Ever been to a public swimming pool, restroom, or water park? I hate when you see a wet band aid on the ground. (I actually almost threw up a little in my mouth right there.) When I do what I think is great, and present it to God, it is the equivalent of gathering up those dirty, smelly, stained, wet band aids and saying, “Hey God, isn’t this great! Look at what I did for you! I’m AWESOME!”
And did you catch that little word in there? All. Yep. ALL our deeds are filthy, not just some, or most. A – L – L. Everything good that I try to do is filthy, like a leper. Wait, that can’t really be correct, can it? Surely God is happy when I do my best. Well, if we go on to read the rest of verse 6, we see that it is correct. “…our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing], like the wind, takes us away [carrying us far from God’s favor, toward destruction].”
Hmmm. What to do, what to do? Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? There really is nothing that I can do. This is when we thank God that He loved us enough to do HIS best. And HIS best was sending Jesus – the only perfect person ever – to earth to live a perfect life, die on a tree, and rise again in three days. He defeated death and sin.
That is something that MY best (or yours, my dear friends) could never come close to doing. Do you believe that? I know you have tried and tried to be good enough, but you never can be. That is OK, cause guess what?! Jesus is good enough!
Don’t do your best apart from Him. If you have never trusted Jesus as your savior, do it now. He will cleanse you and your filthy rags.
If you have trusted Him, do your best IN HIM. He knows what to do, and He will show you the way. Know that God wants to be involved and in control of every single part of your life. We have talked a lot about God Stories. Be on the lookout for those ways He works in your life. Expect them, then thank Him! Turn to Him every moment. Practice living knowing He is with you all the way.
I think we should get our own t-shirts, gals. Only on the back, ours should say, “Let God’s best be enough.” Just don’t expect me to run a 5K!