Our Limits: Leading Us Where We do not Want to Go

This post has been written for the #FiveMinuteFriday prompt: Limit


Just after I went through a horrendous and yet freeing weekend, my friend sent me this quote from an author I’d introduced her to some weeks ago (AZ quotes):

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,
    named God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
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.


14 thoughts on “Our Limits: Leading Us Where We do not Want to Go

  1. Oh my. This >>>> “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.”

    I love that so much. I am in one of those seasons of discovering my limits. Your post is beautiful and it reminds me that our limits are for our good. Your neighbor at FMF.


    1. So thankful to God for using our deepest valleys to bless. He’s always faithful…Although it’s hard to see it in the valley at times! May God bless you today.


  2. I am currently fascinated by Jacob and am studying him in depth as I walk through Genesis. You made me shout Hallelujah at: “…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.” YES! YES! What beautiful truth. Have an encouraged and blessed week, sweet friend!


  3. This is beautiful Anna- and like Leah- the being led to our limits sentence is also something that really resonated deep within me.

    There is so much to learn in those darkest periods- the ones that most of us would rather avoid and run around- duck under or fly over- anything to keep from going ‘through’ , yet- that truly is, when we are at our most vulnerable, when he reminds us of his grace, love, and that he never leaves us.

    Its hard when we are in those depths and wondering WHY is God leading me through this- WHY- It’s painful, frustrating, and scary- but at the same time- it’s such an opportunity to grow in Him in our faith, our walk and relationship with him, to Trust him- and also, for me- has served as a reminder that when I lay something at his feet and trust in Him- not to pick it back up and try to ‘control’ what’s happening and do it in ‘my time’ as His time is perfect- always, even when it doesn’t seem that it’s happening the way ‘we’ may want.

    Thank you


    1. So true, Lori. His timing is something I also struggle with. But then He lets me look back and see how if it had not gone as He’d planned it, then so much of the blessing awaiting me would not have come. Thanks for your encouragement in commenting and sharing.


  4. Anna, such beautiful words here. Those which resonated most with me are: 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.”

    I’m so glad that the limitations, the hurts that we incur, are not for nothing. God redeems them in our lives. in the process of ploughing our hearts, He helps us to become a clearer reflection of Him.

    Such hope-filled words here today, my friend.


    1. Love what you say here: “He helps us to become a clearer reflection of Him”. You may have noticed the photo I used, which was supposed to communicate exactly what you shared. And I’ve been pondering the power of this in trying to understand why looking at the stars last night made me weep in thankfulness for the love expressed in the promises of God to Abraham. We, His stars, shine ever brighter, the more we reflect His Light. Praying for us both, Jeanne, that in and through the seasons of ploughing that we’d shine all the brighter to bless in His name.

      Thanks for your words of encouragement here.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my, this is beautiful. It seems I have known you much longer then a few months. How your life is coming out of its cocoon and how your wings are unfurling. And how your dear mum would be so proud of the relationship you are pursuing, out ofbthe ashes of her death.

    I love these scriptures. They have long been old, favorite friends in the darkness of so many journeys.

    Oh the hard spoil of hearts truing to survive on our own. And oh how the plow causes it to ache. Dredging up what has lain under the hard spoil for so long. Those old hurts and painful memories and life’s cruel traumas, have been covered long enough to decompose. They do not look the same as they once did when we burried them away. They have become compost, if you will, releasing much needed fertilizer for the fruit of the harvest. Aw… but they soil must be turned over to release its powerful nurtrients. (Sorry, as I slip into allegorical comparisons. I grew upnin farming country and have had a garden for many years, though I am not great at it, I do love it.) Watching things grow, because the proper care was given, is so rewarding, I can imagine, Jesus joy as He watches you begin to produce sprouts, that will flower in Spring and produce fruit in the autumn. But for now it is winter. The soil was prepared and turned over and has lain dormant for a season. I look forward to celebrating your Spring with you.

    Love and hugs dear friend from afar


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