The season of Lent often slows me down. (One year I tried to abstain from speeding as a way to focus my attention on God – you can ask me about it later, but never again!)  This year in my slowing, I find myself coming back to the idea of being created with limits, or having limitations. This isn’t something unique to being human. Spiritual director and pastor Rob Des Cotes wrote,

“The Lord sets limits to all things. This far you may come and no farther. [referencing the sea, Job 38:8-11] While God calls us to grow, He also places boundaries that limit our growth. If we can accept the fact that there are God-ordained purposes to the limitations of our life we can perhaps be more open to acknowledging them and learning how to work within their constraints.”

Just like the rest of creation, each person has their own unique set of limits - and this is actually a very good thing! We're not supposed to live boundless having no restrictions. Aside from general boundaries that we all experience, such as the force of gravity or the changing of seasons, our limits can include the state of our physical bodies, our living situation, our age, our life stage, our finances, our talents, our opportunities - or lack thereof. These limitations give some form to the shape of our lives and days. I’m very thankful for this spiritual truth, as it’s giving me new perspective and freedom from my own, often unrealistic expectations of myself. In His wisdom, God has given me limits that I am learning to trust; limits that are by His design. In this season of my life, I have a certain amount of energy each day. It’s not endless. Frantically trying different hacks so I can squeeze out more and more isn’t necessarily honoring what I’ve been entrusted with. The same thing can be said about my time, my attention and my ability to empathize with another. Limitations are often seen as negatives in our culture, things that hold us back. But perhaps by allowing only a certain amount of skills, or passion, or resources, and no more, God is making a way so that His purposes can be fulfilled in my life, as I learn to live within my limitations and depend on Him. And the real kicker here is that I often don’t see these reasons or results of God – He works in mysterious and hidden ways. As human beings we are limited, finite and spiritually short-sighted creatures. I’m encouraged to remember that Jesus lived with many limits during his human days on earth and he fulfilled God’s purposes for him wholly. This Lent and beyond, I want to lean more on our limitless Father, who has put me together with the gentlest of hands, who knows me more intimately than I could ever know myself, and who is infinitely good and wise, to gift me with my limits.

Joy Liao

February 2024