The Limited Man

Psalm 39:4 LORD, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.”

When I was a young man, I thought I was nearly invincible. I would do treacherous stunts, throw myself recklessly into climbs or bike rides that would have been my death if I had made a slight mistake. I was always so confident that if something went wrong, I could easily recover.

*I can see now how foolish that was.

Many years later I went hiking to the top of Smith Rock, this is a famous rock climbing area near Bend, Oregon, it is known for a particular climb called “Monkey face”. When I got to the top, there was a rocky bluff that looked just like a perch featured in a movie called the “Lion King”, as I approached the edge in which my fearless son had just looked over, my knees almost buckled under me. The 500 foot drop straight down made me realize the peril I was in. If I tripped, leaned too far, or slipped, well I would fall for a few seconds then that would be it for me.

*The nearness of my end gave me reason to be cautious.

The more we realize our limitations, the wiser we become.

Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may present a heart of wisdom.”

The older I become, the more I realize my frailty. The evidence of this gained wisdom is apparent the more advanced in years I become. Talk to a 90 year old and their focus is usually quite simple—don’t fall! The equilibrium becomes less stable, the legs don’t move with the same agility as they used to and the fall can be catastrophic. A broken arm, hip, or fractured skull can send the elderly into a tailspin that is hard to recover from.

Ecclesiastes 11:10 “So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.”

The fleeting nature of the young quickly dissipates in a few short years. Sometimes the reality of vulnerability is seen earlier than expected.

The young don’t have the same perspective as the elderly.

A few years ago a young, 23 year old man, appeared in our ER having chest pain. It is typically very unlikely that a man of that age would be having a heart attack but the signs all pointed to one so we had to bring him into the lab. As we expected, his coronary arteries were completely normal but once we shot the Left ventriculogram, we realized the problem—His heart was functioning at a level of 1/10th of what it should have. After questioning him, we discovered he had decided to try cocaine for the first time the night before at a party. The cocaine had such an adverse affect on his system that it caused his heart to almost die, it looked like he had had a massive heart attack. His seemingly invulnerability was suddenly revealed to be a lie.

2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee from youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Does this mean that young people can’t enjoy life or take a few risks? Of course not, the encouragement isn’t meant to stifle life but to embrace—– True LIfe.

Take a trip to the local children’s hospital and you will see a ward full of sweet little children battling all forms of disease; some survive, some do not. They are full of hopes and dreams while the scourge of sickness attacks in ways that seem so unjustified. I can’t say why the Lord allows such suffering, all I know is that He loves them dearly and His ways are perfect, all we can do is trust that He has a purpose.

We may never see God’s purpose in our lifetime.

Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

Whether it was Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, or any of the patriarch’s of the Bible, they all were looking forward to a promise they didn’t live to see. The promise for a coming Messiah was present and yet there were other promises God had given them, in some cases it was only subsequent generations that were able to witness these fulfilled promises.

We have a many promises of God.

There are promises to never leave you or forsake you, to give you a future and a hope, to know there awaits a crown of life in Heaven for you, and a future home in glory. We are not guaranteed to outlive our children, we are not promised to live until we are 90, or to see great prosperity in life…..the promises we are given are much more significant.

2 Corinthians 7:1 “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Prosperity is relative to what God deems as prosperous. You can be full of love, your faith can be so tested and tried to where it is a mountain of strength beneath you, you can have insight that comes through years of obedience, or be fruitful in your testimony that brings much joy.

And yet, we are not guaranteed our next breath.

Psalm 39:11 “When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth; Surely every man is vapor. Selah”

We must remember, it is the Lord who gives true life and brings true judgement in death.

When we sin, He rebukes us for our sin. The chastisement of the Lord brings us to Holiness, it doesn’t destroy. We are destroyed by our own stubborn unwillingness to submit to His perfect plan for us. Sin leads to destruction and to pain, the ways we deal with loss or heartbreak is dependent on whom we trust. When tragedy comes, like the death of a child, we can either rely on God’s promises or on our own limited understanding.

Why would God allow a child to die early?

{ I do not see in scripture a child perishing early because that child was a sinner. } There is evidence of wicked parents that lead their children into destruction, there is also evidence of God bringing death upon an entire nation for their wickedness and children were included in this destruction.

*I have heard many say to me this is the main reason why they could never trust in the Lord.

After much searching and praying my conclusion is this:

Wicked parents lead their children into wickedness. We witness the sins of a father being passed down to subsequent generations. According to scripture, we are not born sinners, we are born with a propensity to sin—-i.e. a sinful nature.

When the Lord removed wicked parents from the land, it was always after they had used up the full measure of His call to repentance. When a child is subjected to God’s wrath because of its parents, that child is being saved from the destructive path that parent was going to lead them on. A child is innocent of sin until they have the knowledge of sin. When a child perishes, they are brought into glory.

*Why God doesn’t remove every child who is to be raised in a wicked, unbelieving home is beyond my understanding.

I have known many people who have come to Christ having never seen the love of God expressed through their families. Each person is different, each reason God uses is His own and it is perfect.

Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.”

If I could understand everything God does, He wouldn’t be God. His ways are too great for me, I can only see the principles of God’s Word and apply them to my circumstances. Beyond this knowledge, I am left with the same conclusion as everyone else—Do I trust You?

I thank God I am frail and I know this. I thank God that my understanding is limited, if I could understand all that God does, it would certainly be overwhelming to me.

We must all come to the conclusion of whether we will hope in the Lord or place our hope in ourselves.

Knowing our limitations gives us a right perspective in life. Since I can’t trust in myself, I know I need to trust in the One who is higher than I. The Lord has never failed when I’ve placed my trust in Him and He never will.

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