Daily Worship

Against Excellence

James Cathcart January 08, 2023 0 2
Image credit: Unsplash

Isaiah 42: 1-4 (NRSVA)

1 Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be crushed
    until he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

2023… well let’s do our best eh?

But does God require our best do you think?

God wants the best for us but does God require the best from us? Our biggest best contributions in our loudest, clearest voices? Surely if God wants us to thrive it’s up to us to bring our A-game? To be the 'best we can be’?

Nope, God doesn’t require our best.

In the same way that a loving parent or caregiver doesn’t require ‘the best’ from their children. What they require is simply the child themselves. That’s enough. They want their child to thrive — but the child doesn’t owe them their best, genuine love has no such requirement.

My toddler has inherited my loud, carrying voice, often soaring across a busy thoroughfare. I love it about her. But I also love the whispering, half spoken/half thought muttering she does as she creates imaginative worlds pottering around the house with her toys. I love her utterly when she learns to do something new. And I love her utterly when she sits staring at the insurmountable cliff face of yet another mystery, unable to comprehend it.

My love for her is populated with her enthusiastic ‘best’ but it by no means relies on it. And I am often reminded most deeply of my love when I see in her the quiet unassuming shy wonder of the world. She is, by dint of being herself — not anything she does or achieves — my best, my treasure.

We are God’s treasure and God delights in our voices big and small, confident and wavering, simply because they are ours. I believe God is more bothered about being with us — with being invited in — than with us achieving ‘our best’. We are preoccupied with status, achievement, renown, and merit. God isn’t.

Some of the most powerful words in human history, including some spoken by Jesus, were uttered in soft tones, that would not trouble a bruised reed or a dimly burning wick but none-the-less were vessels of God’s grace. Because God doesn’t prioritise ‘the best’.

This year God does not require your best.

God simply requires you.



Dear God,

Thank you for loving us so tenderly