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Embracing Our Constraints

Weekly Devotionals

Embracing Our Constraints

Exodus 34:6-7
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

This passage comes right after Moses breaks the first set of the 10 commandments. The Israelites just didn’t get the lesson so it seems like God is having to remind them that he’s gracious and slow to anger YET he has his limits. There’s a tension to God’s character and they are not mutually exclusive.

I’m reminded of this everyday as we try to raise three young children. At times I am loving and slow to anger but my limit is easily reached when the kids don’t listen. Don’t run around the house, don’t hit your brother, don’t pick your nose. Kids really don’t like constraints. They want to do what they want to do, not unlike adults.

We never really grow out of this sense of claustrophobia. We can adjust our expectations or become more disciplined, but the feeling of having boundaries placed upon us will forever be unsettling. We wonder if we’re really choosing to live the life we want or if it’s forced upon us. Sometimes it helps to imagine what our life would be without such limits. What choices would be make if we didn’t have the constraints of money for example. Would we stop working, buy a bigger house, give it all away? The choices we would make without such limits puts our ultimate priorities under a microscope. They reveal our deepest treasures.

The question is not if we will have constraints. Even God himself has limits. Unlike us, He is ultimately constrained by love, which is why he punishes the guilty, that they might learn and change. The question is how do we respond to constraints and if we can trust in a gracious God that also has limits. In this new year, I am trying to live within the tension, embracing constraints as a opportunity to learn about who I am and what I really care about.