This post has been written for the #FiveMinuteFriday prompt: Limit
Why should I tremble at the plough of my Lord, that maketh deep furrows on my soul? I know He is no idle husbandman, He purposeth a crop.
And then this morning, I read this (Isaiah 49: 8 – 12, The Message):
God also says:
“When the time’s ripe, I answer you.
When victory’s due, I help you.
I form you and use you
to reconnect the people with me,
To put the land in order,
to resettle families on the ruined properties.
I tell prisoners, ‘Come on out. You’re free!’
and those huddled in fear, ‘It’s all right. It’s safe now.’
There’ll be foodstands along all the roads,
picnics on all the hills—
Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty,
shade from the sun, shelter from the wind,
For the Compassionate One guides them,
takes them to the best springs.
I’ll make all my mountains into roads,
turn them into a superhighway.
Look: These coming from far countries,
and those, out of the north,
These streaming in from the west,
and those from all the way down the Nile!”
Since the Lord has started leading me back to Him in 2014, He has repeatedly guided me through the path of Psalm 23: making me lie down in green pastures, before leading me through the valley of the shadow of death to get to the quiet waters He uses to restore my soul. And each time He’s taken me to the valley, to the absolute limit of myself, I’ve tried like crazy to start clawing back that which I thought I’d released at His feet previously. And then, each and every time, as I’ve cried out to Him from beneath the crippling weight, blaming Him for that which I’ve saddled upon myself, He’s opened my eyes to see. And in the opening, I’ve felt another layer of my hardened heart being peeled off, and then His Love pour down into places I’d kept numbed and hidden from His Light.
If it was up to me, I’d never walk into the valley of human limits at all. But in listening to His voice, I’ve been led there. These limits have been physical, emotional and psychological: fasting, grief and (trauma-induced) fears. If it was up to me, I’d speed through this place of breaking limitations, numbing myself to get through. But in listening to His voice, He’s encouraged me to linger, whispering (Isaiah 52: 12, The Message):
“But you don’t have to be in a hurry. You’re not running from anybody! God is leading you out of here, and the God of Israel is also your rear guard.”
And, so in the lingering, my limits have leant me into to His Strength, His Power, His Glory and His limitless unfurling Love. A love that whispers (Isaiah 51: 12 – 16, The Message):
“I, I’m the One comforting you.
What are you afraid of—or who?
Some man or woman who’ll soon be dead?
Some poor wretch destined for dust?
You’ve forgotten me, God, who made you,
who unfurled the skies, who founded the earth.
And here you are, quaking like an aspen
before the tantrums of a tyrant
who thinks he can kick down the world.
But what will come of the tantrums?
The victims will be released before you know it.
They’re not going to die.
They’re not even going to go hungry.
For I am God, your very own God,
who stirs up the sea and whips up the waves,
I teach you how to talk, word by word,
and personally watch over you,
Even while I’m unfurling the skies,
setting earth on solid foundations,
and greeting Zion: ‘Welcome, my people!’”
So, you see, I’m starting to understand what Samuel Rutherford learnt well before me, that God leads us to our limits, so that He can “plough” our hearts, making “deep furrows” on our souls, so that like Jacob, what is purposed to hurt us, can be used to bring life and redemption in and through us. For the harvest is ripe, but the workers are few…and Our Father has purposed a crop so large we cannot even fathom it. And a numbed and hardened heart cannot carry and shine the Light we are destined to into this weary world. So, this morning I’m thankful for the breaking place of human limitations and for the grace of God for leading me through it, time and time again, so that His Light may shine all the more brightly in and through me.