As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate the finely tuned wisdom of knowing my limitations. This is not merely because the bravado and naiveté of my bullet proof days of youth are now far behind me – but I think there is a focusing clarity that accompanies the realization that there are fewer days ahead than behind. Now, I know this might seem like it flies in the face of the popular zeitgeist of the self-help positive confession mantras of positive thinking – but I’m not really juxtaposing optimism with pessimism here . . . it might be more helpful for you to understand my point as offering a little bit of ballast, for keeping your feet when the tempest blows.
Just as sure as being paralyzed by our limitations is undoubtedly a ditch on one side of the road — when we speciously evaluate our life as having no limitation, we run the risk of swerving into the ditch on the other. Even so, a proportional assessment of our limitations, for some reason seems elusive. Some limitations will appear to us as insurmountable, only to discover they can easily be dispatched – while others will go completely undetected as we barrel head long into the same wall, repeatedly. But by their very nature, it would seem, we conduct a sort of fight or flight relationship with our limitations, likely because we rather not look at them too closely . . . probably because on some level, our limitations are such an unflinching truth telling about who we are — we’d rather leave them in abstraction.
However, truly knowing our limitations allows us to see a clear path, to focus our energies on where our gifts and passions lie – while allowing the things we can’t control to drop from our hand. Because all too often we live under the misconception that we can control things far beyond our control. I can’t ultimately keep myself, or my loved ones, safe from all harm– life is just too dangerous a place. I can’t have everything I want, in the way I want it . . . and this is likely a good thing. I can’t make myself significant to someone else – no matter how hard I try. So the sooner I confess such limitations, disarming my fear of them, the sooner I can get about the business of doing what I was meant to do. Because ultimately, I must surrender all that I can do, as well as all that’s beyond me, into God’s hands.
But no doubt there are some reading this thinking “What about Philippians 4:13 ~ ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’ – doesn’t that say I can do all things?” But with a careful reading of this passage we discover that it is actually declaring that our natural state is very limited, and that it is God, who is limitless. Therefore, the strength to do all things can only be experienced through God – so we must confess our limitations, before we can embrace the strength found in Christ . . . these two are inextricably bound. It is in beginning to know our limitations where we begin to learn the limitless value of our faith. So yes, in faith we are to take it to the very limit . . . and then be amazed by all that God is accomplishing through us.
This Peter Himmelman song off of his latest recording project, is a haunting interior stroll through the garden of our self-imposed limitations . . . as time indifferently bears witness.