Limits. Typically when I think of the word limit I think of boundaries. I think of the speed limits and stop signs in life. I think of rules. And who likes rules?
I was a rule follower for most of my childhood, but I remember in middle school starting to question a lot of the limits put on my life. Why can’t I watch that movie? Why is my curfew earlier than other kids my age? Why can’t I run at the pool? And speaking of the pool, who created adult swim?? Limits were ruining all my fun.
Recently I completed a study by Kelly Minter called “What Love Is.” (I highly suggest you check it out.) The study examines 1,2, and 3 John. John describes love over and over as following God’s commands. From the outset that doesn’t sound too promising. So IF I follow your rules, guidelines, or limits for my life……then I will be loved? Then I will BE love? Sounds like a conditional love to those who may not understand the context of God’s love.
2 John 4: 6 says, “ And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” Well, what we also know about this same God is that He disciplines those he loves and counts as His Children. (Hebrews 12:6-7) So when the Lord gives us commands like “Love your neighbor as yourself, “ or “trust in me with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” He is personifying love. God’s commands ARE love.
I don’t know how often I forget that the Lord describes himself as Father so that we remember that he is actively parenting us. You wouldn’t let your teenaged daughter stay out until 3 am because you care for her safety. You wouldn’t let your toddler run near the pool because you want them to be safe and protected. Just like a loving earthly father protects his children, how much more does our heavenly father guard our hearts, souls, and bodies through His loving commands?
I know when I am tempted to grumble that I have to love someone who is seeming really unlovable or I have to guard my eyes from reading that book I want to read or watching that movie I want to watch, knowing full well that I don’t need those images and words clouding my brain, that His commands don’t FEEL like love. They feel like burdens. Just like when our parents give us guidelines or rules for us, it doesn’t feel like they love us, but like they just don’t want us to have any fun!
But I love how Kelly Minter puts it: “ While I’ve never loved discipline in the present moment or forsaking sins that are often pleasurable, I wouldn’t trade the Lord weighing on my conscience like a boulder for anything in the world.” (pg 145.)
One thing walking in this world has taught me is that in some of the most painful times of sacrifice and obedience, the Lord has shaped me, pruned me, and grown me more than ever before. It’s those dark moments, in our pain cave—so to speak—that he meets us where we are, to allow us to see that what we perceive as limiting, is actually Him taking away our earthly limitations and replacing them with a limitless future in Him.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “limit?”