The Limitations of Reality & the Reality of Limitations

I'm continuing to read Jean Fleming's Pursue the Intentional Life, taking it slowing and letting the
thoughts and challenges of the book sink into my soul. I've underlined and marked many passages, praying that they will stay with me. I'm learning a great deal that's particularly meaningful to me at this point in my life.

As I've said repeatedly, I continue to ponder the intentional life and what it means. Not just what it means in general, but what it means for me. I'm continually challenging myself to implement what I'm learning, through Scripture and Fleming's book.  I'm sure it will be something I do for the rest of my life. At least I hope so.

I've set goals, to narrow my focus to the areas that are most important to my life and my family now. I imagine they always will be. The reality of how short I fall in each of these areas is startling and humbling; the progress to be made, overwhelming. My natural - and sinful - inclination is to make a long list and tackle it, make myself feel I'm making strides toward meeting these goals. But while there is much work to be done, my first priority must be my heart.

I must live humbly within the limiting realities of my life. The words nearly fell me. Fleming is addressing physical limitations, but I immediately recognize this as a truth I need to apply to my heart. It would be so very easy to forget the limitations, to plow headfirst into a list of things to be checked off as I complete them and to be devastated when I don't.

For example, my first goal is to be more hospitable in my home and to my family. Does this mean I must make everything from scratch, keep everything spotless, and have dinner parties every month? My people-pleasing personality would say yes; however, in Luke 10:38-42, Jesus gently tells Martha that these things should not be her first priority. He knows her time each day is limited. He knows that His time with them is limited. He instructs her to choose the better part.

I have a certain number of hours in the day to accomplish my tasks. Time is a limiting reality in my life. I must accept that it is far better to eat the Bread of Life than to make my own bread. I serve my family more by spending time with them instead of ignoring them to make sure everthing is spic and span.

My second goal is to love the Body of Christ better. I could give all my attention to this goal alone and never fully meet it. To be sure, there is much loving to be done in any church. Needs to be met, prayers to be offered, bonds to be forged. When I am tempted to feel that I must be a part of everyone's life, I remember that Jesus had 12 close friends and an inner circle of 3.  His example reminds me to be wise in my relationships and service.

I cannot devote myself entirely to the needs of others. Physical and emotional energy are limiting realities in my life. I cannot reasonably expect to invest in the lives of every member of my covenant family and other Christian friends. Of course, I can encourage everyone by my example (please, Lord! may it be so!) and I should make myself available when someone seeks me out. I am called to serve my church, but I am not called to take part in every ministry or be everyone's closest friend.

There are other limiting realities in my life: geography, finances, phycial and mental abilities. I must learn to live humbly within them, to accept that these are the lines which have fallen for me (see Psalm 16:5-6). As I shared at Out of the Ordinary a few weeks ago,
We've forgotten that when we grumble about our ordinary lives, we grumble against the God who sovereingly placed the lines around us. We've forgotten that what lies between those lines is a gift from the Lord and we are called to be good stewards of it.

And the pondering continues...


  1. This is beautiful Melissa...thank you for sharing what you are gleaning from this book. I have enjoyed reading your thoughts along with Trisha's and Becky''s been a blessing to my heart. Hmmm...limitations...yes, I can relate. How wonderful it is to know that our Lord is ALL sufficient!! Hugs to you, Camille


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