A God With Limits

“And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’ ” Mark 14:36

When you’re a child you think your parents can do anything. My guess is that the reason for this is simple; our parents have always been able to do the simple things we’ve asked them to do. Everything we’ve wanted to eat they’ve been able to give us. To every question we’ve ever asked they’ve provided a satisfactory answer. Everything we’ve ever wanted they’ve been able to purchase. No object has been to heavy for daddy to pick up. And no fear has been to scary for mommy to comfort. Because of all this, the logical conclusion for our young minds is that mommy and daddy can do anything.

After the passing of a few more years, experience, however, unmasks the truth regarding our parents capabilities and we learn that they can’t do, and they don’t know, everything. For most this realization comes gently and easily with no trauma associated with the learning. For others the acquisition of this knowledge comes as a keen disappointment.

It comes as no less a perplexing revelation to learn that our God has limits as well.

Let me be clear. I believe that scripture is speaking the truth when it says that nothing is outside God’s ability to know it. I believe that scripture is only revealing reality when it says that the extent of God’s strength and power is unsurpassable. And I believe that the Bible doesn’t lie when it says that there is no one and nothing that is capable of ultimately thwarting God’s sovereignty.

Yet, even God, cannot escape the reality that the making of some choices dictates that we must do some things and must not do others. For example, if God chooses to make us capable of loving him, he must also chose to give us a free will, and if he gives us a free will he must, also, not interfere when we meaningfully exercise it. And then God is faced with the reality of billions of His creation, all with free will, all infected with the selfishness of sin, each wanting to chose something different than the other, many not caring if they hurt someone else, and some actually making the harming of others their choice. How is God to retain his respect for each individual’s free will and still get what he desires, let alone give each of us what we want? He can’t. He has, like everyone, limits.

The Garden reveals how painful those limits make it for God to love us. Yet he can’t deny himself. He loves us and because of that love alone he has chosen to face the pain rather than to lose us without a fight.

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