For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..
When was the last time you felt really limited in what you could do? Most of us probably don't need to think beyond the past 24 hours.
I'm not particularly skilled in embracing my limitations. Right now I'm typing at an agonizingly slow pace, thanks to a splinted left index finger that braced my fall during a creek hike Tuesday morning. If I don'rrt slow down and retype eveything, rvrty sintece would look like rhis. Dor real. Also, I have to keep my finger elevated to stop it from throbbing, so everyone that sees me right now looks up to the sky to see what I'm pointing at. Joke's on you, buddy.
This is a temporary and relatively minor issue in life. Yet for a little while, almost every single thing that I try to do is impacted by my limitedness. I'm acutely aware of all that I'm incapable of. In fact, I almost convinced myself not to write at all today because it would be slow and annoying and my capacity is less than what I'd prefer. And that's one of the temptations that comes along when we don't have a healthy understanding of our God-given limits: We don't do anything if we can't do everything. And therefore, we never learn one of the core tenets of discipleship: You don't accomplish your way into the kingdom of heaven. We trust the abundant grace of God through Christ, and we live out of that, at peace with what we can accomplish and at peace with what we can't. So when grace is leading us, we're ok with simply doing what we can, even if that doesn't feel like enough.
This frustration with our limits can impact us outwardly as well. Our church got a call from a homeless man experiencing a crisis this morning. I went to meet him and we were able to help him, but he needed far, far more than what we were able to do for him. I couldn't fix everything for this young man. I wanted to rescue him from a whole series of unfortunate circumstances and decisions. But I was limited in what I could offer. And because I sensed those limits right away, I almost decided to not even return the call. There's that temptation again that comes along when we don't have a healthy understanding of our God-given limits. If we can't do something really huge for people that need help, maybe we shouldn't do anything at all.
Maybe bumping up against our limits is how we learn to trust in God's goodness. Maybe when we fail or when we're incapable in some way, we have no option but to trust that God's salvation is available to us in the midst of our very obvious shortcomings. And maybe when we are reminded that we can't be another person's savior, it forces us to trust that Jesus can be... and that God can meet and provide for people in ways that we cannot and will one day make all things whole. This shouldn't discourage us from acts of compassion, but make us all the more willing to be compassionate, in spite of the fact that what we offer others may feel woefully inadequate.
Or maybe these are just random thoughts from a guy who can't type well, slightly hopped up on pain meds, and discouraged that we can't just snap our fingers and make all the pain in the world disappear. Because life can feel like a lot sometimes.
Either way, where do we go from here?
Today we look first at Jesus. We pray. and we do what we can, in love. Then we pray some more and thank God for the gift that it all doesn't depend on us. Then we get up tomorrow, fully aware of our own limits and God's limitless care, and we do it all over again. In faith.
Jesus, help me do what I can today, and trust you with all that I can't.