In our super busy society Philippians 4:13 is popular. “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength” appears on mugs, keychains, t-shirts… We love to quote this when we’re feeling overwhelmed because of activities and commitments.
But here’s the irony – that verse, in context, is not talking about conquering the world or handling a super busy schedule, it’s talking about learning to be content!
Twice – in Philippians 4:11 and 12 – Paul emphasizes this is something that is learned. It doesn’t come naturally to us. But is it ever vitally important!
When we read Genesis 1 (and also Job 38!) we see God is really into separating and setting things in their places. He set the water exactly where he wanted it to be – both the waters below and the waters above. And he created boundaries for the Sea. He set the sun, moon and each of the stars in their exact places. And good thing too!
Can you imagine what life would be like if the Sun didn’t have a set place, if it exceeded it’s boundaries?
Scientists say if it was just one degree closer we’d all be scorched. And if it was one degree farther away we’d freeze! There would be no life.
Likewise, when we don’t live in the boundaries God has laid for us, it robs us – and others around us of life! Yet our sinful nature tends to rebel against boundaries. And as Christians we sure can excel at offering seemingly biblical justifications for busyness!
But God has created us, all of us, with limits – for good reason too!
I once cried out to God in frustration, “I want to be available to these women at any time but I can’t!” And the Lord replied, “You mean you want to be me?!”
“I’ve give you limits for a reason – for your benefit as well as for the girls. Only I am available all the time and I want them to know that! When you aren’t available for them, I’m here and that gives them opportunity to run directly to me.”
“Rest in me. Knowing I never want you doing more than one thing! And when you try to do more than I want you to, you aren’t doing anyone any favors but can actually end up working against me!”
In Psalm 16 David writes, “Oh Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup. You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
Yet how many times do we miss out on that pleasantness because we are rushing around, as if boundaries don’t exist or aren’t important. Some of the busiest people I know are those involved in ministering to others!
If we aren’t careful, when we are discipling someone, instead of helping her learn contentment, so she can live well in the boundaries God laid for her, we can add to her driven-ness and busyness.
But to live a beautiful life in a broken world for the glory of God we simply must learn to live within the boundaries the Lord has laid for us. And help those we’re discipling learn this too!
As they say about children, “More is caught than taught.”
So ask the Lord to help you learn the secret of being content with the boundaries He has placed in your life. Ask Him to help you identify where you are exceeding your boundaries and what He wants you to do about it. Ask Him to reveal anything that may be driving you to do more than He wants you to. And then, help those you are discipling learn this.
Right before he died, David Brainerd said, “God has given me a horse and a message. I have killed the horse and can no longer deliver the message.”
To love well, we need to live well. And a key part of living well is learning to live within the boundaries the Lord has laid for you.
You are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) and His works are wonderful (Psalm 139: 14). May we live in the reality of this truth and not be driven to do more than we should, trying to prove or attain what Jesus has already established for us.
There’s no need to strive to be wonder woman, when in Jesus you already are a wonderful woman!