Living with Limitations

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Psalm 16:6

It’s a strange world we live in. I keep saying this to myself every time I go to the grocery store and see people wearing masks, standing six feet apart, and workers sanitizing shopping carts. Even though we have been living like this for months now, I am still not used to it. This is not how life is supposed to be.

Will this be a new normal?

It will be 10 years ago this September that I received the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. After the initial symptoms faded, life returned to some normalcy. However, the years carried on, and with them the disease carried on more and more noticeable. This was not how my life was supposed to be. I had to begin living with a new normal.

This is how life is. There are good times, and then there are bad times. We experience setbacks, tragedies or consequences from poor choices. We become disillusioned with the darkness. Why has God allowed this to happen to me? Why doesn’t God heal me? Somehow we think we deserve better from God.

Ever since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden, humanity and creation has been plagued with thorns and thistles. We all have sinned, like Adam and Eve, and we all fall short of God’s glory. We deserve the worst this world has to offer, but God invites us instead to be united with Him through the death of His one and only Son. We need to be reminded of this often.

I like to think of limitations as invitations.

Last summer I took an adventure with my sister. We toured six national parks. I was not sure how much I would enjoy this trip, or how my body would respond to such a task. While at our first stop, the Rocky Mountain National Park, we ventured into the gift shop like all good tourists do, and there standing in a rack were hiking sticks. I had succumbed to bringing a walking cane with me on this trip, but I admired the hiking sticks. They looked braver than my scrawny cane anyway, and my sister with her kind heart, purchased one for me. I thought to myself, “Maybe I won’t look like a feeble, handicapped person with this hiking stick,” and I held it proudly. 

At the end of this adventure through the national parks, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had overcome my disability and enjoyed my vacation. I had done more than I thought possible. This euphoric feeling prodded me to begin a daily walking regimen at home, with my hiking stick of course. The walking is still hard, but the stick is a reminder of God’s grace. I’ve been beginning to see the hiking stick not as a limitation but an invitation to press on, to see God work in and through my disability.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Now we are faced with a collective limitation. Social distancing, mask wearing, and staying home more restricts us in ways we are growing weary of. We bristle at the thought of giving up what we deem to be God-given individual liberties. I believe God is using the coronavirus pandemic as an invitation for us.

Have we gotten too big for our britches, too comfortable in this world, too trusting in our own abilities, too dependent on our bank accounts, and too patriotic? Are we looking to this world to give us security and peace? Are there relationships we value over our relationship with God?

Let’s learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

What I know is that Jesus is inviting us to come to Him, and learn from Him. Will you accept His grace-filled invitation? Jesus never promised a perfect world, or even a good world, but He told us explicitly that this world will have trouble. Are we going still going to resist, to have our way?

If we would dare to have an eternal perspective of every limitation or grief we bear in this life, we would not see the unbearable weight, but the eternal weight of glory that far exceeds them all!

It is going to be hard for me and you, mainly because we will have to deny ourselves. We have to believe that God is who He says He is, and that He redeems all that He allows in our life. Therefore, pick up your hiking stick my friend, and follow the One who has overcome the world. Jesus truly does love you.

This is your invitation.

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