How We Limit God

It was a series of unprecedented actions.

The formation of the universe …

Taking a man away in the midst of his life, and doing so without making him die …

A great devastating natural disaster, with the promise that a few could be saved …

Requiring a man to go into unknown, uncharted territory …

Promising a child, born from two people well past their child-bearing years …

Becoming the guardian, protector, savior, and deity of mere humans …

Asking a man to kill — to sacrifice — his own son …

Receiving the praise, and valuing the blessings, of an old man, when he couldn’t even stand on his own …

Sending a destroyer to kill the firstborn of an oppressive nation — and saving the firstborn of the oppressed people …

Parting an entire sea, so people could actually walk through it, on dry land …

Destroying the city of walls of a stronghold city in a new land …

Saving a prostitute, because she believed in a force bigger than herself and her family …

Conquering entire kingdoms …

Closing the mouths of hungry and terrifying lions, in the presence of prisoners …

Quenching the fury of punishing flames, reserved for the faithful …

Resurrecting children from the dead …

And giving strength and courage to the tortured and the persecuted …

All of these things were done by a God, for a people who believed he could do each of them.

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It’s a commentary on our lack of dreaming, I think. The things above are now passed on to successive generations of believers as cute stories in children’s books. We’ve relegated them to the realm of fairy tales and make-believe, lumping them with all sorts of other stories children see or hear.

We’ve placed them there, and found ourselves at odds with the enormity of these actions. It takes faith, for us, just to even consider that these things actually happened in the past.

And that says nothing about the faith it would take for us to actually believe these things could happen again.

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1, 2; ESV)

I love the word “weight” here. It’s the correct word, too, taken straight from the original language of this New Testament book. It has all sorts of meanings.

It could be extra body weight. It could be training weights. Both would be acceptable in this brief illustration. The point is that everyone has a weight that keeps us from believing in an unprecedented God.

Doubt stems from the weight we carry — the weight we purposefully carry. That weight has contaminated our ability to dream big dreams for God, and to believe in big things from God. It’s the weight of tradition. It’s the weight of debt. It’s the weight of guilt. It’s the weight of a failing health. It’s the weight of past mistakes. It’s the weight of addictions. It’s the weight of movies. It’s the weight of gossip. It’s the weight of drama. It’s the weight of uncertainty.

And weights — any kind of weights — will only bring you down, and load you down, and stop you in your own spiritual formation. They will keep you from believing.

This passage isn’t just about running a race, or finishing it without sin … it is about living a life of belief, of faith, in a God that can do things we could never imagine.

It’s believing in a God that resurrects people today. Who parts bodies of water today. Who gives people supernatural courage today. Who asks people to sacrifice the things that are most precious to them today. Who validates the faith of what we would call the “worst kinds of sinners” today.

We have little doubt that God can do these things. We have great doubt in our ability to believe God can do them for our eyes to see.

My weight is different from your weight. But the sin in our lives is the same. And both will impede our walk, and our run. Don’t let them. Lay aside the weights, and refuse to become constantly entangled with your sin. There are big things waiting to happen, and you don’t want to miss them.

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Our God is a God of unprecedented actions. He is full of surprises. He is the author of imagination. He is the creator of creativity. If we only expect him to perform in the ways of our own limited thinking ability, then God will fulfill that request. Why? Because we lack the faith that he can do bigger things.

The list above, of his unprecedented actions, were achieved because all of the people in Hebrews 11 believed those things could actually happen.

By faith, we understand …

By faith, Abel offered …

By faith, Enoch was taken …

By faith, Noah … in holy fear built an ark …

By faith, Abraham, when called … obeyed and went …

By faith, Abraham, even though he was past age … was enabled to become a father …

By faith, Abraham … offered his son Isaac …

By faith, Isaac blessed …

By faith, Moses’ parent hid him …

By faith, Moses … chose to be mistreated along with the people of God …

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea …

By faith the walls of Jericho fell …

By faith the prostitute Rahab was not killed …

Make no mistake. God performed all of these unprecedented actions.

But God limited his own ability to the faith of the people for which he acted.

And I confess, today, that for far too much of my life I believed in a petty God.

Today, though, in this fresh reading, I am ready to see what my eyes have not yet seen. And I pray, God, for the courage to go where I’ve never been, to see things I’ve never seen, and to experience things I’ve never experienced.

I hope you take this journey with me.

__________

This is day 76. What a journey this has been.

 

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2 thoughts on “How We Limit God

  1. awesome thought. I am seeing more and more in scripture where people step and God blows the doors wide open but the first step is sometimes ours to take (faith). Hope you are doing well.

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