Saturday, March 27, 2010

Living with Limitations in Life and in Work

"You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it"

Psalm 139:5-6

I’m a dreamer – I love thinking about what’s possible. I’m inclined to look at life through the windshield, rather than rear view mirror.

People just like me don’t take well to boundaries or limitations, either in life or in work but the reality is that they do exist for each of us. Some limitations are circumstantial or temporary. Other limitations may be physical and more permanent in nature. Some have to do with relationships, either at home or at work. Others pertain to our own makeup – our limitation in talent or ability.

It's interesting that Psalm 139 indicates to us that God may be behind these limitations – it is God who hems us “in behind and before”. It is God who lays His hand on us.

I’m also provoked by David's response – “Such knowledge is too wonderful to me. It is high, I cannot attain it”. He sees God’s limiting hand but he doesn’t fight it … it’s mysterious and puzzling but “wonderful” nonetheless. He is simultaneously humbled and amazed by it.

I don’t often see limitations in life that way – I sometimes struggle to see God’s hand. When I don’t understand, I’m often perplexed instead of amazed. But God is faithful and kind to help me – He’s taught me and continues to teach me – He’s gently leading me to trust Him.

I’d love to hear how you deal with the limitations in your life – at work, at home, in your community. What happens when you don’t have the ability to do what you once could? How do you respond when you realize your dreams won’t be achieved? How do you deal with the harsh reality that you're simple not good enough, not smart enough, not talented enough to accomplish your goals?

How should we respond?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quote of the Week

"An honorable, God glorifying approach to work does not involve a continual obsession with productivity. We are called not only to be workers, but also to be children, spouses, parents, church members, citizens, and stewards of God's material gifts. God's call to us is to have the right attitude toward each role, resulting in the right priorities."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pondering the Prodigal God

I learned something new this week and I thought I'd share it - apparently, the word prodigal doesn't mean what I thought it meant. I've always assumed that prodigal meant "wayward" as in "the prodigal son" but it turns out that prodigal means something else altogether -

prodigal [prod-i-guhl]

- adjective

1. wastefully or recklessly extravagant;
2. giving or yielding profusely;
3. lavishly abundant;

Sometimes when long held perceptions give way to new perspectives, you gain new ways of appreciating old truths. I was first drawn to look into the meaning of the word when the title of a book by Tim Keller (The Prodigal God) caught my attention. Although I haven't yet read the intriguingly titled book, I find myself pondering the ways in which God might be considered "prodigal"

How has God revealed Himself to be "recklessly extravagant"?

Chiefly, I'm thinking of how God exhausted the treasure-house of heaven by sending the True Treasure, Jesus Christ on a rescue mission to redeem a world lost in rebellion.

He exhausted His wealth to make us rich (2 Corinthians 8:9)
He extravagantly loved those who loved Him not (Isaiah 53:3)
He laid aside His cosmic kingship to be the lowliest servant so as to rescue a race of rebels (Philippians 2:5-8)
He suffered immeasurable injustice to set the guilty free. (Luke 23:46-48)
He, the Perfect Righteous One became sin in order to make sinful men, perfectly righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21)

It turns out that the story of the Bible is more about the Prodigal God than the prodigal son. Just thought you should know.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Quote of the Week

"It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord - lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness - that you are on the verge of understanding the gospel and becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything: how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, your sins, your virtue. It’s called the new birth because it’s so radical."

Tim Keller, The Prodigal God, p.78

Monday, March 01, 2010

Knowing Precedes Trusting

Have you ever had a hard time trusting God? Yeah, me too. Maybe you need to trust God for the healing of a fractured relationship or perhaps you're waiting on Him to provide a better job. Sometimes trusting God is just plain hard, isn't it?

Several years ago, when I was going through a difficult time, I was struggling to trust God when I happened upon this verse from Psalm 9:10

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

For those who are truly acquainted with God's character and nature, trusting Him becomes the natural conclusion. At the time, this verse spoke to the heart of my problem - trusting God wasn't simply about "naming and claiming" or mustering more faith mojo. It's all about knowing...because knowing precedes trusting. My problem was that I didn't rightly perceive God. I didn't know His name - I had a very limited view of His true nature and character. I thought of Him as a sovereign ruler but not as one who is also kind, gracious and committed to bring about good things in my life.

Where do you start on this journey of growing in faith and trust toward God? Here are three things I've found helpful -

1. Start with reading the Bible. God is uniquely revealed to us through Scripture and reading God's word will help shape our perception of God.
2. Meditate on His character. It's not enough just to read... we ought to let the revelation of God through Scripture take root by meditating on His revealed character
3. Cultivate faithful friendships. Growing in trust toward God is a community project - you need friends to remind you of who He is, especially in the midst of trials and tribulations of life.