Sometimes I get this feeling of déjà vu in my Christian life. It’s like I keep reading passages in the Bible or learning lessons that are variations of something that I’ve learned before. Themes in the Bible, in my life, in my friendships are intertwined and interconnected. I read or learn something, and it keeps showing up again and again.
Psalm 16 has been one of those passages for me. I studied it in college; it has been a guide in prayer for the past few years; Hannah Anderson talked about it at City Church's women’s retreat in January; and it regularly comes to mind every few days. Psalm 16 is my Biblical déjà vu.
Recently City Church's leadership class talked about the concept of ministry from weakness, looking specifically at a chapter called “Suffering: Leading with a Limp” from Weakness to Strength by Scott Sauls. In this chapter Sauls describes that Christians lead well when we are realistic about the fallen world we live in and hopeful about the restoration that is to come in Christ. This means that we face brokenness and suffering knowing that God is far greater than that pain—but we are given the opportunity to see that our suffering, pain, weakness, even our limits, might be venues for ministry. We are called to live and minister to one another from realism and hope.
As I read this chapter, I couldn’t help but hear echoes of Psalm 16. David begins his psalm crying out for God’s preservation and protection because the world that David lives in (and that we live in) is filled with danger and brokenness. No matter what we are facing, we are facing a world that is not as it should be. But David goes on to find delight within the limits and the boundaries that God has given him—“the Lord is my portion” says David. David’s place in the world, within the boundaries that God has set is pleasant to him; it is good. Even his tone sounds like a person who is at rest, who trusts that God holds his future. But we are often restless. The idea of limits, boundaries, even weakness, is totally counter-cultural to what we think ought to achieve or how we should live. We don’t embrace limits, we fight against them.
Through passages like Psalm 16 and the wisdom of others like Scott Sauls, Kate Harris, and many friends, I have come to truly believe that God has put limits—and even allows weakness and pain—in my life FOR MY GOOD. He has not set up boundaries to cut me off from his goodness or from joy or from fullness, but rather to help me find those things in him through the places he has called me to live.
I don’t know what the boundaries might be in your life, but I am certain, if you are anything like me, anything like anyone that I know, you will struggle to believe that an ordinary, faithful life (often a weak and messy life) is good enough. But it is. And it is good because God who is the giver of all good has given it to YOU.
We can trust that these boundaries are for our good because God himself—the limitless, infinite, all powerful God—was willing to be constrained. And it was through constraint, limits, boundaries that Jesus was able to give us true and abounding life. Jesus embraced the limits and constraints of our human bodies so that he might become like us so that he might rescue us. Without Jesus’s willingness to take on our limits, without the weakness Christ embraced, we would not know salvation and rescue from our sin. Because of the constraints Jesus humbly and willingly accepted, we are given an inheritance, the inheritance that we find in Christ, just David writes in Psalm 16:11...