Limitations Are My Friends

By Lee Heyward,

Several weeks ago I suffered a hamstring injury to my right leg. It’s nothing serious, just aggravating. My injury is a daily reminder that I’m over 60 now, not under 30. My doctor prescribed three things—restrict your activity level, rest your leg, and rehab. He smiled as I left, handed me a script and said, “This kind of injury usually takes 4-6 months to heal. Enjoy your summer!” How do you enjoy summer when you’ve just been directed to limit your summer?

Limitations! We all have them and face them as far as our capacity is concerned—our age—our finances—our intellects—our emotions—our energy. Limitations are a regular part of life.

One of the places we become extremely vulnerable is when we refuse to embrace our limitations. Remember Adam and Eve in the garden? Their refusal to accept God’s limitations of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil got them thrown out of the garden. Limitations are to life what guardrails and speed limits are to motorists. Disaster usually results when we ignore them.

Psalm 131 offers us much-needed wisdom when it comes to befriending our limitations. Charles Spurgeon said of Psalm 131, “This psalm is one of the shortest to read, but hardest to learn.”

I suspect David penned these words after the disgrace of his affair with Bathsheba, his murder of Uriah, and the painful revolt led by his rebellious son Absalom. His cry is humbled. He is slower to defend himself, less quick to imagine he knows it all, and more impressed with the wise ways of God. David quietly writes, “My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me” (vs.1).

Later David pictures himself as “still and quieted…like a weaned child with its mother” (vs.2). The concept behind the words ‘stilled’ and ‘quieted’ is that of an ancient plow plowing a level field. David has bumped up against his human limitations and his life is being ‘leveled.’

There’s a well-known slogan taught in our schools and in pop culture, “You can be whatever you want to be” (along with “you can have whatever you want”). Such a slogan reflects American individualism and consumerism more than Biblical realism.  I’ve observed a fair number of people who believe that there are no limitations or boundaries in life. They are on the fast track in the undisciplined pursuit of more. As a consequence their lives are frantically out of control, unbalanced, and less than satisfying.

David’s psalm proposes a different slogan—“Be who God made you to be.”  No longer like a little child squealing for his mother’s breast, David has been weaned. He’s content. He’s matured and settled into being who God made him to be. He’s embraced his limitations and decided to anchor his trust in God (vs.3), whose wisdom and knowledge knows no boundaries!

If you have a limitation, perhaps it’s worth embracing.