I must confess that I have a struggle with limits more often than I wish. I suspect that you might also even if the limits that you face are not the same as mine.
What do I mean by limits?
I’m talking about those things that restrict me, slow me down, and stop me in some way from doing or being able to do something that I wish I could do. They are boundary lines and some of them feel restrictive and some I wish were not necessary.
Limits seem to pop up in our lives from the time we arrive on earth.
Think of all the limitations of an infant as well as their lack of determining how quickly or when they might be fed, changed, cuddled or put to bed. Mom and Dad make those choices depending on their endurance, values, schedules, and so on.
As an adult, I face other limits. Before I retired, my time and spending habits were limited by my working hours and income. The speed I could drive to work was limited by how many risks I would take to exceed the speed limit. My energy level had limits as well and working often affected those and could get in the way of the things I wanted to do such as read, bike or hike, do something creative with photography and a long list of things I might wish.
The truth is the categories and lists of limits or potential limits can be quite long.
The categories include, but are not limited to:
- Money and economic opportunities
- Physical health and energy
- Mental acuity
- Emotional health, skills, and intuition
- Family situation
- Where I live or work
I’m sure you get the idea and can add more categories than I have noted here.
But there are also spiritual limits I need to recognize.
What are those?
I am limited spiritually by what I know of God, my response to Him, and all things spiritual. These are impacted greatly by my life experiences, my church experiences, and the amount of time I spend seeking to know and understand God.
The Lord loved me (and you) so much He gave me choices from the very beginning. He didn’t force me to accept Him, love Him, spend time with Him, and pursue His heart. He didn’t force me to read the Bible or spend time in worship. He wanted me to choose to do those things out of my love for Him.
That was His design from Genesis to Revelation. He, who had no limits, put limits on His creation to prevent chaos and keep balance. What would happen if the speed of the rotation of the earth varied each month or each week or day? What if the sun didn’t come up in a pattern or rhythm? Every living thing on the earth is connected and would be damaged without the boundary lines God put in place.
He put them there for man as well. I’m sure you remember the freedom Adam and Eve had except for one tree. They didn’t seem to like or accept limits either as a result of Lucifer’s ploys. Lucifer never accepted his own limitations with God. It is little wonder that we have all gotten tripped up with boundary lines and limits. Even when we are told the consequences of violating them, we periodically try to ignore what will happen to us and violate them.
Some of the limits or boundary lines we deal with are fixed by choices between obedience and sin, light and darkness, life and death. Most of us discover those realities through painful practice. There are seasons when we might be tempted to rail at God for the difficulty we face in limiting ourselves to make the best choice, the wise choice, and the one that honors Him.
You see, I think we can easily forget that God did not set up limits and boundary lines to make us miserable, but exactly the opposite.
He was well aware that we were finite and as such, we would deal with a multitude of limitations. He also knew if we violated them we might become unhealthy, get sick, lose relationships, miss out on Him and all He had in His design for us.
He gave us limits and boundary lines out of His love and care for us, to protect us.
When I retired, I began to hear many comments about how fortunate I was because I could now do anything I wanted. Of course that was not really true.
Limits and boundary lines follow us into each season of our lives.
I doubt I will ever totally stop disliking some of the limits that I face no matter what the season, but I am persuaded I need to adjust my perspective about their purpose, their value. I need to keep in focus why a loving, gracious, and merciful God has placed them in my life, in your life.
Then I can abide with the psalmist when he writes:
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:6 (ESV)