Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed?
Job 38:8-11 (ESV)
L ast year, I hopped a plane to Portland to attend a conference. Arriving a day early to visit Powell’s bookstore and a few of my favorite coffee shops in the area, I entered the pomp and circumstance typical of any major city: the banging of construction, the wailing sirens of emergency vehicles, and the suffocating congestion of rush-hour traffic. Instead of the excitement I expected to feel, the eclectic energy of the city was panic-inducing. My chest tightened and tears started filling my eyes. I was falling apart. I needed a new plan.
With a new location in my GPS, I drove the winding mountain roads from Portland to Cannon Beach. Approaching my new destination, the scent of spruce trees, standing guard over each side of the highway, gave way to the salty ocean air of the Pacific. I found a place to park, pulled off my shoes and socks, rolled up my jeans, and shuffled through the shifting sand. The water gently disintegrated around my feet and, as I felt the stress and panic finally recede, it was if these shallow waves had washed over my soul as well.
Father God, I am in awe of You and Your endless love. I thank You for creating me with limits. In the hustle and bustle of my life, the limits You have given me release me from the pressure to be everything to everyone. Use my limits to expand my compassion for my family, my friends, and my coworkers, who all have limits of their own.
From where I stood, the water barely reached my ankles before retreating. This ocean, larger than any city, more powerful than any crowd, fell apart after stretching so far across the sand. Because the ocean has limits. And so do we.
The waves aren’t ashamed of what they aren’t able to reach, they proudly crash and clap the best they can. Just as the tide changes, our ability to stretch and reach will vary from day to day or season to season. The ocean isn’t less wonderful because of its limits, and neither are we.
Our limits are gifts which allow us to be held and known. Our limits give us the empathy to love and the humility to be loved. Our limits allow us to be uniquely awesome. And even though these limits may cause us to change our plans from time to time, a change in plans may just be what we need to stand attentively before our Heavenly Father who washes over us with the depth of His limitless love.
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