Why is it that cats love jumping in boxes as you are trying to pack them? Friday evening I was sorting through my Christmas tree ornaments. At first Symba was off napping somewhere, but just as I began wrapping the ornaments he suddenly appeared on the dining room table pouncing on the tissue paper, pawing at enticing dangly things, and delicately tip-toeing among the array of tempting items. No amount of “shooing” or scolding could deter him as he hopped into one box and proudly claimed it. As you can see, he had every intention of staying there! It was a challenge but boxes are stored away until next Christmas.
In my quiet times with the Lord this week, I have been considering how I might be limiting God’s working in my life because of some of my own thinking. The catch phrase, “Don’t put God in a box” came to my mind and I began to reflect on what that really means.
We often hear people say, and I’ve said it myself, “I don’t want to limit God”. Really though, I can’t limit God or put Him in a box. The apostle Paul struggled with this too and he wrote, “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give Him advice? And who has given Him so much that He needs to pay it back? For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36, NLT)
Perhaps the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, marveled at God’s hand, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NLT)
As Job’s friends tried to comfort him in the midst of his incomprehensive suffering, Eliphaz said of God, “He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.” (Job 5:9, NLT) Zophar wondered, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” (11:7, NIV) Elihu remarked, “The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power…” (37:23, NIV)
King David praised God with the words, “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure His greatness.” (Psalm 145:3, NLT) Another psalmist wrote, “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him." (115:3) God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah saying, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (32:27, NIV) Jesus Christ testified to God’s unlimited power when He addressed His disciples regarding salvation, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
God is all-powerful and can do anything He desires…when He wants…how He chooses. When I “limit” God or try to box Him in, what I am really doing is limiting my own ability to see what He is doing, where, when, and how. It is my finite thinking, my preconceived ideas, my beliefs, my interpretations, my biases, my background and upbringing, my vulnerability to traditional viewpoints that may contradict biblical truths, my allowance of Christian legalism to shape my vision of how God shows His hand in my life and the world.
God is always working in whatever ways and means He chooses, but how open are my mind and spirit to actually perceive it? Sometimes I don’t see God’s hand because I simply don’t want to, because I have been taught He doesn’t work in that way anymore, or that it was only for a particular time or purpose. Who am I to try and manipulate the limitless resources at God’s disposal? Maybe when I attempt to do this I actually do hinder God from what He desires to do in and through me! I wonder how many times I have missed out on an opportunity for God to use me in doing something exceptional and beyond what my limited understanding permits?
When Job had enough of his friends’ “advice” God intervened and broke His silence. He wanted Job to listen to Him above all others and remind Job of the Almighty’s surpassing greatness. In humility of spirit Job replied, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I – and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!’...I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (42:2-5, NLT)
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20, NLT)
Until next Sunday,