Restrained for Greatness
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Self-discipline. What comes to mind when you hear that word? I don’t know about you, but that word can make me crazy! It speaks of restraint. Limits. Boundaries. I'm not a fan of restraints, limits or boundaries.
But, what if restraints didn't exist? Are they good in some cases? I was a research engineer for NASA. There, in the Propulsion Systems Laboratory we conducted tests on full scale jet engines with thrust of 30,000 pounds of force. That's power! To test them, they had to be secured with restraints. These NEVER diminished the significance or purpose of the engine. They enhanced it. With the engine held in place, we could study its effects and feel its power. The restraints increased the wonder and marvel of that machine.
Restraints don't diminish glory. They enhance it.
Limits are good. God thinks so. Even in the perfect Garden of Eden, he deemed one tree off limits. And God didn’t just call the garden good, he called it VERY GOOD. In God’s economy, restraint equals moral integrity.
Then, why do I think restraints are bad? Have you ever been told, “No! You cannot have, go, be, do…” It leaves me feeling limited, even diminished. I’m held back, muzzled, shut down. It is frustrating!
King David was familiar with frustrating restrictions. As a young man, he was anointed to be the next King of Israel. Yet for fifteen years he lived as a fugitive. Saul, the current king was jealous of David and wanted him dead. Once, King Saul wandered into the exact cave where David was hiding. David could have easily killed him and justified it. But, he would not. He waited on God and willingly accepted his lot, his limitations. In God’s timing, David became the most famous and loved king of Israel.
I want to be like David! I want to be content where I am - convinced of God's perfect timing for my life - knowing that even my restrictions will be used for His glory. David declared:
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.I want to love my boundaries. But sometimes I don't. I complain. I feel insignificant. I have been a speaker on a national platform before large audiences. Currently, I need to be a stay-at-home mom. Though I often feel restrained and limited, I must do the next right thing. Do laundry. Make lunches. Drive the carpool. I don’t want to be concerned with the significance of the task, but the significance of the task-master. There can be glory and greatness in the most menial tasks. It is all work that must be done. Stepping into the servant role is the mark of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Though he was God, he took on the role of servant to save us. Not only did it need to be done, but he had a view of the bigger picture.
So I pray for contentment. I pray for faith like David. I don’t want to seek self-actualization, but self-surrender.
Therefore, I will not resist the restraints. I will not fight the limits. I will accept where I am right now. I will trust that God knows exactly what he's doing. He is not diminishing me. He is enhancing me, for his glory!