Be faithful in your limitations.
A counter cultural phrase if there ever was one.
My dad and brother, Tim and David Gill, have a podcast called Kingdom Link, and they interviewed my grandfather, Muncia Walls, for an episode. This quote of his went straight to my heart. They had asked him about some of the pitfalls young ministers need to watch out for. One of his answers was jealousy, and then he quickly followed up with “be faithful in your limitations.” Basically, be yourself. Don’t worry about others. Do what God has called you to do.
What a powerful idea. This phrase goes against everything this world promotes. According to culture, there are no limits to which we need to be faithful. Marriage can be signed away with a pen. Life can be ended in a doctor’s office before it even has a chance to begin. There are no limits to gender or to desire. No boundaries. No drawn lines. Be whatever you want, want whatever and whomever you want. All limits have been erased, and this new “freedom” is promoted to be what will allow us to accomplish anything.
Who wants to be limited? Who wants to be restrained? Who wants to be told, "this is not for you"?!
This message can even slip through into the hearts of believers. We sing, “Through You, I can do anything, I can do all things, ‘cause it’s You Who gives me strength. Nothing is impossible.” I love that song – it’s biblical! Philippians 4:13 says it plainly, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
So that sounds an awful lot like there are no limitations placed on us, right?
The verses leading up to verse 13 say, “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, there with to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
If there were no limitations on Paul, if he could do all things, why would he suffer need? Why would he be hungry? If all things were possible, why would he not choose to abound all the time?
I don’t think Paul is saying that he could literally do anything. I think that he is saying that he can be hungry or he could be full, he could have plenty or he could lack, he could be happy or he could be dejected, but he could do it all through Christ. Whatever season, whatever situation, under whatever unmovable limitations, he could conquer it all. He could live in victory.
I firmly, unequivocally, one thousand percent believe that God can do anything. And He could choose to use me to do anything. But He doesn’t. Why would He?
If I could do anything, if I had no limitations, why would He need anyone else? I could do it all. And furthermore, why would I need Him?
He could have chosen to loosen Moses’ tongue and clear up his speech, but He didn’t. He allowed that limitation to rest on him. And He chose to use Aaron as His voice instead.
How frustrating it must have been for Moses to see God turn his staff into a snake, water to blood, day into night, but keep his tongue bound. Limited Moses served an unlimited God. Limited Moses was used to save an entire nation of people. Limited Moses changed the world.
God could have chosen to remove Paul’s thorn in his flesh, but He didn’t. He allowed that hindrance, annoyance, and distraction to remain. And Paul learned humility, steadfastness, and the power of God’s grace and strength.
How frustrating it must have been to watch the Savior of the world wash the dirt off your feet but leave the thorn in your side. How agonizing it must have been to see signs and wonders and miracles, and then limp home in pain. Limited Paul served an unlimited God. Limited Paul wrote half of the New Testament and brought the gospel to an untold amount of people. Limited Paul changed the world.
Be faithful in your limitations.
While God will give us the strength to live through, conquer, and triumph in all things, He will not give us the ability to do all things.
His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His glory shines through in our areas of lack. So why try to cover them up and become something we’re not?
I may never be able to sing or write or parent or minister the way some of my heroes do. But the good news is that I’m not supposed to.
I have been called to be me. Limited Whitney. He has called me to come up higher closer to Him, dig down deeper into the Word, shed the trappings of this world, and press toward the mark of becoming ever better … but He has never called me to be someone else.
He knows my limitations well. He’s eager to let His glory shine through them. My only job is to be faithful in them. To stay on my own path, not glancing jealously at someone else’s. To continually give my weaknesses to Him to chip away at and mold and form into a new creation.
So today, if you’re reading this, take a breath. Unclench your jaw. Soften and lower your shoulders. Release that tension. Shed that pressure. No one was called to do it all. No one was asked to be the best at everything. And no one is called for the mission you were specifically equipped for, except you.
Be faithful in your limitations. God will take care of the rest.