Sunday, January 17, 2016

When You Can't "Handle It"

In the last several weeks I have learned a lot about "handling hard things."

Adding a precious, precocious four year old to our family last month was a step of obedience.  For the first time in a long time my compassionate desire to save the world was trumped by the reality of the load we were already carrying--the knowing that we could not handle one more plate--and after a fitful night of wrestling with God, the knowledge that He told us to do it anyway.

I clutched my long held belief that "God won't give more than we can handle" and even quoted a translation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that backed me up. " All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it."

It got a lot of likes on facebook and one wise old friend posted a dissenting opinion and linked to another writer's blog... "I actually have come to believe that God intentionally pushes us past our limits because He knows that is usually what it takes to get us to turn to Him."

I was not sure what to think about this challenge to a deeply ingrained truth--a battle cry for weary hearts...the "You can do this!" we shout to encourage each other along the road.

Yesterday morning, after processing some new and complex curve balls we have been thrown, I had a thought--what if we have our focus all wrong. Who said "handling it." was ever even the point?

I am not aware of a single place in Scripture (feel free to correct me as I am not a Biblical scholar) when God said to any of His followers "Handle it." What I am aware of are many other directives from God:
"Fear Not."
"Trust"
"Listen"
"Repent."
"Hear."
"Do."
"Obey."
"Follow"
"Love."
"Believe."
"Worship."

 No where does God say, "Handle it."

The belief that we can handle anything is actually a insidious form of pride. I am coming to believe there are many things God has no desire for us to handle--He is calling us to let go of our fierce belief in our own abilities and trust Him for the outcome.

Honestly, in a different season of my life I would view this as cowardice, quitting or laziness--but in this season I am learning it is a call to courage to release the grip and let my Almighty Father "handle it."

The focus of the quoted verse should be on the fact that God won't let us down...not that we have never-ending limits. It is a slippery slope.

The last six weeks have been very challenging. Parenting six children under twelve has radically changed the spirit of our family. Once intentional and quality time focused, there are many days now where we truly are just "managing" instead. Our love for spontaneity has been reigned in by the demand for routine.

There are so many hearts and so little time.. I have incredible support--honestly, I am blown away by the people God has put in our lives who are the quiet, humble servants that show up and lighten the load over and over again. But one thing has been clear: We aren't "handling" anything.

"He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV 

The Message translation of this is the cry of my humbled, cannot-handle-it heart:
"Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."

I didn't understand it until I walked it, but there is unbelievable freedom in having nothing to stand on but your faith. Every time I think I know what direction God has all this heading, the route takes an unexpected hard right turn. The control freak in me was forced out of town and what remains is new version of myself I am just getting to know.

If I could just tell you the stories of the humiliation I have experienced with severe public meltdowns, dropped balls, forgotten tasks, missed deadlines, behavior from children that defies all the books and training, people constantly in and out of my many-dirty-dishes-in-the-sink chaos, a calendar that is absolutely in pencil...

I feel like a dishrag who has had every ounce of my pride wrung out. And guess what? I've never felt this humbled, this light, this sure God was leading--or this free.

4 comments:

Renee said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
"Watching" you life out your faith in a
transparent, real way strengths my faith walk.
Blessings!
Renee

Aja said...

Again, such a good post. I firmly fall in the "God WILL give you more than you can handle" camp and always have. I am so very very weak on my own, but Christ is so good to provide me strength and help and a firm foundation to lean on (the Holy Spirit as well as people acting as His hands and feet providing earthy help). Praying for your family as you continue down this path.

Denise Ross said...

Wow, wonderful post, JMom. I too have come to the realisation recently that God does give us more than we can handle, because then I have to hand it all to Him on my knees and rely solely on Him to direct, to carry me and to walk together hand in hand, rather than walking on in my own strength and without Him. Today I'm realising that there are multitude balls in the air and multiple challanging things happening all the time. The only rest I get is when I lay it all at our Saviours feet and stop carrying them and allow Him to carry them and me. It is hard to let go but freeing though I find it somewhat scary to let go and let God do what He is supposed to do and for me not to control or be in control of anything. The only thing I'm in control of is my response or reaction to situations. For me to be a blessing to others and be a shining light of Jesus, I have to really pray that my reactions and my responses are guided by the Holy Spirit. I'm a mess, I'm not in control, but I live for my Saviour who can and does have control. Totally free, but in truth I'm scared. Scared of what God will ask me to do, but I don't want to live without Him so I must obey and believe. So I'm choosing to step forward as a broken being living freely in Christ. My heart is warmed that you have so much support in your life, in your family. I'm keeping you all in my prayers.

Melene@Sing For Joy said...

Thank you so much for this! It is very encouraging and helpful to me. We have a 15 year old girl from Germany with us for the school year and some very bad choices she's made have recently come to light and we've lost trust in her and she has most likely lost her chance to finish out this full opportunity and will be sent home early. Finding the evidence and confronting her has been very difficult. I am so thankful to be going through this with my husband and with God's help.