Limitations

faceplantDid a face plant a couple of weeks ago.  On concrete.  It was ugly, and so was I for a few days.

The irony of the situation was that I was bolting from one meeting to another, with a cross-town drive in-between.  And the place I was in a hurry to?

A radio interview about the mental health of people in the ministry.

I wasn’t exactly expecting to have my own tested in the process.  But that’s the price you pay when you’re trying to move at the speed of light on a sidewalk designed for the speed of pedestrians.

For just a minute I thought I was seeing the light of eternity.  Turns out I was just seeing stars.

Aside from the wounds to my forehead, knees, hands and pride, I did learn a few things, such as what an “orbital nerve” is.  Oh, and that there is more than one kind of black eye.

But the most important thing I was reminded of is that my ability to maintain my rhythm and step in this world of the falling is no comparison to God’s ability to hold me, heal me, and shepherd me home.  Regardless of how I may stumble in a temporal world, in the one that matters most, He won’t let me fall. [click to continue…]

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In 1835 a man visited a doctor in Florence, Italy.  He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from lack of sleep.  He couldn’t eat, and he avoided his friends.  The doctor found that he was in prime physical condition.  Concluding that his patient needed to have a good time, the physician told him about a circus in town and its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi.  Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles.  “You must go and see him,” the doctor advised.  “Grimaldi is the world’s funniest clown.  He’ll make you laugh and cure your sadness.”

“No, he can’t help me,” said the patient.  “You see, I am Grimaldi!”

It’s one of those ironies, a paradox of life in general, and a hidden truth of Kingdom life in particular.  Laughter flows out of pain.  Joy would be nonexistent without sorrow.  Grace wouldn’t exist if there were no need for it.  And what I lack becomes the basis for what I have to offer. [click to continue…]

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Somewhere not far from you, in an undisclosed location (they like to keep it that way), a group of ants is planning for winter.  Methodically, laboriously, they’re hauling whatever it is that ants eat into a safe place.  Though I’m sure they’re tempted to nibble on the profits, they resist the temptation to consume today.  Instinctively they know that they must work now for the time when either they can’t work, or there won’t be resources available.

In the Middle East there dwells a little furry critter – something like a cross between a chipmunk and a badger.  (In other words, he sings like an angel, but he’s in a really bad mood!)  Seriously, this little mammal is something like a Rocky Mountain version of a prairie dog.  He has no natural defenses, yet easily protects himself from predators.  His secret?  He makes his home in the little crags between the rocks.  There he remains safe while his enemies get a sore nose.

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It’s the creator’s fantasy…

…to use the tools of the trade – words or paint or dance or music – to design the ultimate masterpiece.

…to turn passion into such artistic cleverness and inspiration into such adoration that mountains move, easels grow dark, and all other voices remain silent, at least for a while.

…to write the song to end all songwriting, or the story that all other stories are compared to, or the verse that contains the finest content of the heart.

Never gonna happen.

The heart is too large to be reduced to words or rhymes or phrases or meter.

The soul is too powerfully changing to be framed by one snapshot of expression.

The imagination is too delighted in the dance of dreaming to stop with one image.

The inspiration is too elusive and awe-inspiring to ever satisfy the poet that his work is done.

The Creator whose image we bear is too interesting to be limited to our vision-of-the-moment.

So we have the choice… [click to continue…]

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Joey’s feeling pretty small today.  That’s what happens when you’re supposed to have the right words to say and there are no right words for a family in needless grief and pain.  So Joey just hangs there, offering the ministry of presence.  Hoping to offer some kind of life or lift that will help.  But who will lift the lifter, and remind Joey what it’s like to stand tall and strong again?

Joey needs a carrier.

Alicia would never admit this, but she’s a living example of a Proverbs 31 woman.  Greatly admired, if not revered, she never seems to sleep, and lives pedal-to-metal most of the time.  She gets more work done by lunchtime than girls half her age and boys of any age do all day.  But behind the success and flair, Alicia hides an ugly secret:  She’s exhausted, and nearing the point of just not caring anymore.  And though she has a hard time admitting she can’t do it all, she, too, needs a carrier.

Joey and Alicia are real-life examples of somebody who’s near you, or who is you, right now…

  • Tired, but no end or help in sight…
  • Overwhelmed, but no clarity about what to hold onto and what to let go of…
  • Weepy at times for no apparent reason, or for any little cause…
  • Feeling abandoned or opposed against the tide of opinions, accusations, or criticism…
  • Disappointed by those once trusted, confused in the very areas that once produced confidence …
  • Surrounded by pain, yet seemingly helpless to do anything about it…

All these and more are the unmistakable signs of someone – maybe you – who is calling for a carrier, whether they know it or not. [click to continue…]

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The happiest man I ran into yesterday had a distinguishing feature.  He only had one arm. 

I don’t know is name, but I know his game; he’s a manager at one of the local fast-food Italian restaurants in town.  In the short time we were there during the lunch rush, I saw him take orders at the register, manage those delicious breadsticks they’re famous for giving away, manage his team to make sure orders got out and the place stayed clean, and – most importantly – see to it that his customers were happy.

We sure were.  And it started with him showing us that he was happy to be there.  He has an infectious smile and a good-natured laugh that invites you to laugh along.  Sure comes in handy when the lunch line is snaking out the door.

Hmmm.  [click to continue…]

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i-cant-danceI want to let you in on a poorly-kept secret.  I can’t dance.

There.  Now somebody besides, well, everybody who knows me is aware.

It’s a disappointment to my ballroom-longing wife.  It was a “you-can-get-over-it” point of conversation to my daughter when she planned her wedding reception.  I knew I couldn’t, but tried.  She insisted I would, and was grateful for the moment.  My tuxedo pants nearly fell off, and given the way the dance was going, that would have been a relief.

That said, good dancers fascinate me.  The skill.  The agility.  The confidence.  The creativity.  But dancing is one of those skills I have relegated to the pile items left off my blueprints.

There are others.  [click to continue…]

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Limitations and Letdowns

by Andy Wood on May 14, 2009

in Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Waiting

(The Four Faces of Disappointment – Part 2)

d0001231I’m not asking for much.  I just want all my expectations fulfilled, and a complete removal of all limitations.

Of course… then I wouldn’t need God.  Then I’d BE God.

Disappointments are a startling, sometimes rude reminder that the job of God of the Universe has already been filled.

Yesterday I mentioned that in my own experiences of painful disappointment, like the experience of the children of Israel, four “faces” of disappointment have emerged.  The first two were delays and distressing people.  But I have found two other ways that God deliberately allows us to “feel the burn.”

3.  Dead Ends

These have to do with measurable limitations – things like life expectancy, dollars, and distance.  Dead ends often lead us to question God’s integrity, because He seems to be contradicting Himself.

It’s like one man said, “I thought becoming a Christian was the end of all my troubles.”  It is – the front end!

Examples of dead ends are everywhere: [click to continue…]

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Somewhere in the back story of the drama that is your life, you are rehearsing a Cinderella story.  One that transforms you from zero to hero, from reject to regal.  You imagined it as a kid in ways that were unique to you.  This dream may have been fed by caring parents, or it may have been an escape from the harshness of your world.

Simply put, you dreamed of glory.

Not vainglory, mind you.  Something more.  An image that said you mattered.  Belonged.  Were wonderfully adequate for the role you’d been chosen – for your quest.

Then came the collision.  Dreams were broadsided by disappointments.  You never quite figured out how to translate that high school stardom into a career or a destiny.  Or worse, you actually found your place in the world, but stared in the mirror at a fraud.  Maybe you got what (or who) you’d always wanted, and you bombed.  Maybe you just settled into paying the bills and keeping house, and woke up a generation later wondering what happened.

Sometimes I think our greatest fear or vulnerability isn’t the evil we’re all capable of.  What we most dread or most grieve is that we’re just so ordinary. [click to continue…]

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