Limits: we hate them.
We tell children they sky is the limit.
They can be anything they want to be.
As adults we kick against limits others set for us.
But I’ve come to a different perspective.
For me the best way to illustrate it is this:
I have specific abilities: I improvise musically – I am an arranger.
I can’t play everything is any key,
And that’s what we identify as the primary symbol of ‘playing by ear.’
I have small hands for a pianist, and that affects my style.
I used to worry about it:
People were always asking me to play something in another key,
Or let them sing a song and have me pick it up immediately.
I can transpose from key to key by theory, pick out melodies and write them down,
But at the least I need notes and/or names of cords.
I disliked these limits on my abilities to do everything I wanted to do.
Then I began to wonder if the limits were a gift in themselves.
I came to know they kept me grounded – aware I needed other people.
I couldn’t do it all myself.
I had to depend on God to help me know where to commit my abilities.
And then I understood some of my limits had kept me out of trouble.
Kept me taking my gifts places where, as a Christian, I didn’t belong.
And when, coming to the end of my abilities, I could say “I can’t do that.”
And it brought release from ever-increasing, pressing demands
From people who end up exploiting talent.
As children the sky is the limit, because we do not yet know our abilities.
We don’t want to let others tell us what our limits are,
But there comes a time when I realize
I have a set of abilities and do not have others,
And begin to use that knowledge both responsibility and with freedom.
If I completely dislike dealing with people, most likely I should not become a politician.
If I love language and my math abilities just get me by, I probably shouldn’t teach college math.
If I’m a logical thinker, perhaps computer science, teaching, theology or philosophy is the answer, not interior decorating.
If I love and need people, a service career is perhaps the way to go, not theoretical scientific research.
Statements always break down, and exceptions are the rule, but there is freedom in limitations.
They help us sort through all the possibilities that are ours.
They help us find a framework on which to hang all parts of our lives.
They keep us from yielding to pressure from people who ask the impossible of us.
As long as we prayerfully ask God what our abilities are, try different things until we find them,
And not get stuck in the rut of fear, using the lack of ability as an excuse not to try new things,
Limits are good things.
They give us a direction in which to head,
Like laws, they can keep us from making serious errors in life,
Ending up hating our life after accepting others’ desires for us,
And loosing an effective witness for God’s joyful life.
Yet, within those limits,
The sky is the limit
We can go as far as we have the ability to execute.
We can do amazing things by perseverance within our larger boundaries.
And God uses the abilities he gave us for our good, and as a tool for His glory.
Scripture Inspiration Gen 2:16-17 and also From the devotional book from Upper Room’s Discipline 2011
…And the Lord God commanded the man saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Gen 2: 16-17