Because life is a series of edits

Learning About Limits, part 4

In Humanity on July 1, 2006 at 2:00 am

(This is the fourth of four posts on "Learning About Limits," a two-week Sunday School series I'm teaching at Memorial. Thanks for enduring the multiple posts, as well as for any comments and insights you might share. For the first three posts, see parts 1, 2, and 3.)

Do we acknowledge before God our limitations? We would be in good company if we did. Hear the cries of Job, David, Solomon, Paul, the author of Hebrews, and James (just to name a few) and sense the acknowledgment of their limits before God and to themselves:

"I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." Job 42:3

"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it." Psalm 139:6

"I said in my heart, 'I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.' And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind." Ecclesiastes 1:16-17

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1 Corinthians 1:25

"…It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…" Hebrews 9:27a

"Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." James 4:14

Are these quotes representative of our perspectives? For some (to a degree, at least), yes. For others (i.e. those of us who imagine ourselves more self-sufficient than dependent), no. The result of the latter is more than just a loss of personal effectiveness (our idol); it is a loss of personal relationship with the Lord (our hurt). Quoting again from Jack Miller:

"If I do not maintain my awareness of the gospel of grace, getting work done once again will become the actual and primary goal of my ministry. Then I will end up working for God but not as a co-laborer with God."

This ties in with Oswald Chambers in The Love of God, namely that we are not to be…

"…an exclusive worker, a person who serves God with passion but works more out of his own resources than out of conscious dependence on God."

Why not? Because our resources of passion (or anything else) are not limitless; on the contrary, we only have (and can only generate) so much on our own before our wells run dry. Ask anybody who takes care of dying people. Do they get their energy from being with sick and needy people all day and/or night? No. They refill and regenerate their desire to care for the dying from being with the living – their family and friends.

Limits, friends. It's not a question of whether they exist; the questions, rather, are do we acknowledge them as existing, assess them where and how they impact our lives, and apply them to our lifestyles with any kind of embrace? Do we trust in God's sovereignty enough to do any of this with a thankful heart? Our spouses, children, and friends probably have as much to say about the truth of our answers as we do.

What would you say?


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