Monday, May 4, 2020

What God Cannot Do

God has made you who you are. He knit you together in your mother's womb and blessed you with all of the little quirks and strengths that make you the person He designed you to be.

Your gifts, your talents, your passions - these are all gifts from God. The intelligence that you have, the work ethic, the desire, the love, the creativity, the heart - all of it is Him. He wants you to be this way.

One of the ways that we often encourage one another is to point out all of these things that God has made you and to affirm them, to tell you what these things mean, what they are worth, how they can be used to change the world and to make your life meaningful. When someone wants to encourage you to pursue your passions, engage your gift, take a risk toward fulfillment, change the world, they often emphasize these things about who you are.

Yet some of us realize that there's something missing from this. There's something that goes unsaid, most often even unnoticed, that makes this not quite right.

Because some of us realize that maybe we are everything that God says we are, everything He's made us to be, all the things that others see in us...and we're still not where we want to be, still not where God wants us to be, still not living the fullness of the life that the world seems to want to promise us on the basis of our passions and talents and skills.

I was engaged in this very conversation just the other day. Someone was gracious to want to tell me about my intelligence, my humor, my passion, my talent, all the gifts that God has clearly put into my being and into my heart - gifts that are going to make me a tremendous blessing to the world in some way, in some shape, in some time. And I realized that when you hear this enough times, it's easy to start feeling entitled to it, like your life is just supposed to fall together because you're everything God made you to be.

To be honest with you, it's been frustrating. Because I've heard these kinds of affirmations for almost my whole life, and honestly, about the same things - the same passions and gifts and personality traits. These things are "going to take you far in this world;" they're going to enable me to "do great things." Spoiler alert: my life is currently nowhere near where all of these passions and gifts and heart should have taken me. I'm not where I want to be, not where I expected to be, although I count my blessings to be in God's hands anyway.

But as I wrestled with hearing these words again, I suddenly realized something. These words are true (that's not the realization, but it's important); they are absolutely true about me. These are the things that God has woven into my being; this is how He's created me. But the realization is this:

For everything God has made me, there are some things He can't. There are some things that I have to make myself.

This probably sends a jolt through your system. You've probably heard so often that God makes you everything that you are that you think it's silly, perhaps even sinful, to think that you have to make yourself anything. Wouldn't that be rejecting God's creation? Wouldn't that be trying to thwart your own design?

Not at all.

Because I realized that the things that God can't make me, He still wants me to be. It's just that I have to choose them.

For example, God can't make me humble. He can give me every opportunity to be humble (and every reason to be), but He cannot make my heart embrace humility. I have to choose to lower myself. I have to choose to sit at the lesser seat. I have to choose to bend my knee.

God can't make me patient. He can give me every opportunity to practice patience, but He can't make me do it. He can't make me wait. I have to choose to defer my satisfaction. I have to choose to wait for better things. I have to choose to not jump at the first opportunity, but to wait for the holy one.

The Lord can give me all the strength in the world to stand, but He cannot choose my posture. I have to do that.

Which means that my life doesn't just fall into place because of all that God has made me to be, because of all of the talents, gifts, and passions He's put in my heart. It takes something more to come to the place that God has for me. I have to choose it. And I choose it through choosing the things He desires for me that He could never just do for me. I have to develop all of those things that God wants me to be, but that I have to choose. (Thankfully, when I choose them, He is already alongside me, ready and willing to help.)

And so as I continue to wait for whatever opportunity it is that God is preparing for me, I can't just rest in knowing who He's created me to be; I have to invest in making myself who He's called me to be. I have to be working diligently on all those things that aren't naturally my gifts from God, those things I have to choose for myself.

It was then that I realized, this world is right. God has made me all of these things - smart, funny, talented, passionate, loving, and so much more - and these things are going to take me somewhere. But if I have to take this season and work on becoming those things He desires for me but can never force - if, in this season, I just work on humble and patient and disciplined - then that's okay, too. Because the life God has for me is never just going to fall in my lap.

And even if it were, I'd have to be sitting first. I'd have to have the right posture.

What gifts has God given you? And what gifts is He waiting for you to give yourself? 

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