The Provisional Gift of Limitations

The God of LimitsIMG_3732
It is a truth that our infinite God made finitude such an essential aspect of all creation. Rivers flow where God deigns them and they flow to oceans that are bounded by land.
Our atmosphere eventually runs thin the higher one goes, as does our energies as we age. God has filled creation with limits.

Wisdom to Live Within
We know from Colossians 1 that all things were created by God, for God and are held together by God. He sustains everything we see. It is wise for everything created to remain utterly dependent and responsive to the Creator. To submit to God’s design for our lives is a wise response. God knows this – he knows it is for our own good to live within his wisely designed constraints.

Even Jesus lived within limits in his incarnation. He only did what his Father showed him to do (see John 5:19, 30 for example), he slept as he tired, he was only in one place at one time.

Foolish Determinations
In my youth I knew “no bounds.” Limits were there but I was determined in what I wanted to do and relentless about when I wanted to do it and how I wanted to do it. If I even smelled a limitation I doubled down. My life motto was “try harder.” That was (past-tense) a grace and mercy, all that unbridled zest for life allowed for a lot to get done – like work all day then parent three energetic boys into the night day after day after day. Now it makes me tired just thinking about it.

God knows it is not wisdom to live this way all our our life. God is inviting us to a wiser life motto than “just do more.”

Expanding Limitations
Why is that as we age our limitations increase? God is the sustaining God. He sustains the sun’s energy for thousands upon thousands of years so why does he not sustain our IMG_5779energy? Why do we bump into our limits more now than ever as we age? These are questions too great for us, but if we listen to the tenure of Scripture we’d note that output is never God’s ultimate concern. Relationship always is God’s deepest, first and foremost longing.

I have been made aware that despite diminished energies I can still have the most fruitful years ahead of me. How is that possible? God brings fruitfulness not by frenetic activity. Fruitfulness comes from deeper relationship.

Everyday Practice
This reflection on our limits and depency has innumerable applications. We grow in dependency along this “Via Limatiatio.” The sooner we allow God to move us from IMG_5388resistance to resignation to embracing our limits the sooner we can not only grow in wisdom but even in vitality and impact.  Kind of paradoxical, isn’t it?
Are you aware of your limits? Financially? Emotionally? Spiritually? Relationally? Professionally? Organizationally? Maybe these are not curses but blessings. What is God protecting you from with these limits?

How is the Spirit inviting you to live within these God-created realities? What would a wise and loving response to him be?

If you lived well within your limits over the long-haul, how could your personal and professional worlds demonstrated vibrancy?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading.

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11 Responses to The Provisional Gift of Limitations

  1. dave106 says:

    Limits are very much on my mind in this stage of life – and those limits cause some anxiety when I realize so much will need to be left undone…until I also realize that those very limitations are what God uses to concentrate my dwindling energies into the most important things he has for me. In his grace he keeps me from wasting my resources.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scott S says:

      Dave – so well said and obviously learned in your journey with God and life’s challenges. I love your words “concentrate my dwindling energies” – that is so wise. Narrowing our focus later in life is essential to finishing well. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. SS

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  2. Dan and Peggy Bennett says:

    Scott, your post on limitations is so very timely. I have never been so limited in what I can phyically do following back surgery. However, with having a limited agenda for the day has been an unexpected gift from the Father. With my mind uncluttered with my next thing to do my time with Him has become a time of sweetness and being with my Lord. I have found that my “limitation” has allowed me to become “unlimited” in my relationship and time with Jesus. For this I am grateful.
    Dan

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    • Scott S says:

      Dan – that is a sweet experience. Thanks for sharing it. Interesting how we never choose physical limitations and yet they can be used of God as a doorway into deeper relationship with him and others. Thank you for gracing us with your own experience of this. Love you brother. SS

      Liked by 1 person

  3. John Adams says:

    Very good stuff. I’m right ‘smack-dab’ in the middle of what you’re describing as the 67th birthday draws nigh. Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. As the old after shave commercial use to say; ” thanks, I needed that”!

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  4. Jonathan says:

    Read this today in our staff meeting; it was a quiet room.

    Having had the advantage of 24 hours of reflection, I found that I could pinpoint “stones of remembrance” to specific points in my life where learnt my emotional, physical or other limitations. Learning to “allow God to move us from resistance to resignation to embracing our limits the sooner we (I) can not only grow in wisdom but even in vitality and impact.” Ah… that Scott… that is wisdom, maturity and grey hair!! (Did I mention bruises?! 🙂
    In this time of life, I live in a new limitation, seeing the protection provided and vibrancy gained!? That is the paradox I find amazing, that (if) I embrace the limitation, the relationships win = thus I too in the end because I gain more from the relationships! (input = output)
    But daily, it’s MY choice to choose between “resistance, resignation, embrace” my limitation. The decision of that day decides the effectiveness of the input and the vibrancy of the output.

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    • Scott S says:

      Jonathan

      Wow, brother, thank you for your deep reflection on the subject. I’d love to hear the reflections of your staff. I’d ever more love to be there to learn from their responses!
      Yes, many bruises for us all along the way. Jesus did not promise anything less.
      Thank you so much for sharing how you are pressing into this part of your journey.

      SS

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  6. Scott, I am reading this finally two months after you posted it and it is perfect for some conversations I keep having over and over again. I enjoy gleaning from Celtic Christian traditions and find the images and concepts of living within seasons, with ebbs and flows, daytime and nighttime very helpful. I find that between 30-50 our lives are often the busiest and then from then on we need to regularly ask God to show us how to live healthy life rhythms making the best “iced wine” possible using a wine analogy. Thanks for sharing. I really value your blog.

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