We now turn from the things we desire to do, to the things we don’t desire to do—and thus, from the question “Lord, why won’t you help me do this?” to “Lord, why (and how) do you expect me to do that?”
Often without even realizing, we place limitations on what God wants to do in our lives, who we’ll reach out to, when we’ll make ourselves available, where we’re willing to go for his sake. Once God’s done laughing at our plans, he gently—or sometimes quite abruptly—pushes us past the boundaries we’ve tried to impose upon his infinite intentions for us.
It’s OK to realize how insufficient we are—or for that matter, how truly little we love the people around us. God already knows it. But it’s not OK to resist God’s will because of our insufficiency, as if he won’t provide everything we need to perform his will.
And it’s definitely not OK to regard others as unworthy of our time and effort—to, in effect, say to God, “I refuse to waste my time, energy, and attention on those people.” . . .
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26–31)
We’ll dig further into this idea next week, but for now, remember this: It’s not only that you’re called to minister to those spiritually, physically, financially, intellectually, or morally weaker than you—you are among those weaklings whom Christ has called to accomplish his wise, righteous, sanctifying, and redeeming purposes. You’re not better, only different. When Christ’s purposes come to fruition, we’ll know that it could only have been the Lord, and thus boast only in him.
We cannot separate our life in Christ from the life we’ve already been placed in by Christ. Only when we begin living an integrated life—where we invite our sacred lives fully into our secular ones, without saying to God, “This far, and no further”—will we begin to be, then see, the change around us.
Another quote from Watchman Nee (from Changed into His Likeness) gives us a simple but wonderfully practical illustration about both our preset boundaries and Christ’s power to blow effortlessly past them:
We know just how much we can stand, but alas, we have not discovered how much Christ can stand. . . . If two children cry, the mother can stand it, but if more than two cry together, under she goes. Yet it is not really a matter of whether two children cry, or three. It is all a question of whether I am getting the victory or Christ. If it is I, then I can stand two only. If Christ, it won’t matter if twenty cry at once! To be carried through by Christ is to be left wondering afterwards how it happened!
To lay down your boundaries is to lay down your control—and to discover that no matter where God leads you next, he still has the control. Prepare to be surprised by God, and to be brought into places where only his glory can be produced.
Lay It Down Today
Find a doorway, and stand behind one side of it. As you look out into the next room, think about at least one boundary you’ve set, where you’ve essentially said to God, “This far, and no further.” As you look out into the next room, think about all the people and things you’ve put on the other side of that boundary. Who’s in that room? What might God want you to do there? Why do you keep yourself on this side?
Take at least a couple minutes to stand in your doorway and think about this—maybe even mourn about what God has wanted to accomplish through you but you’ve resisted until now. Then pray. Repent of your resistance to God’s will for your life, and for the lives of those on the other side. Ask God to break your heart so that you see those people and situations the way he does, and to give you the courage to step past your boundaries and into his purposes for you. As you finish praying, step through your doorway, as a symbol of what you’ll do with the life God now sets before you.