Life Beyond Limits. Nothing can stop you now.
When I was in my thirties, I decided to return to college to complete my degree. Soon afterwards, the guidance counselor informed me that I needed a statistics class to meet the math requirements. Although I enjoyed math, statistics seemed a subject more suited for the elite brainiacs of the world. Definitely not a title I had ever given myself. But regardless of how inadequate I felt, the guidance counselor made it clear… to get the diploma I had to pass the course!
The first week of class was truly mind-numbing. It was as if the instructor was speaking a lost language from the jungles of South America. I was grasping absolutely nothing. And my first test score confirmed it with a glowing “F.” As you can imagine, my nerves were a bit rattled. Nevertheless, I decided to study harder and take better notes in the hope things would improve at some point.
After two more weeks of dumb-founded blank stares and second devastating test score, the category 5 panic took over. How could this be happening? I am a member of The National Honor Society. My GPA is near perfection. I am not an F student. It must be the instructor’s teaching style. That’s it! That’s the cause of the problem. The professor just needs to change the way he is teaching!
So, with bold confidence (sometimes known as blind presumption born from raging panic) I confronted my professor and informed him of my dilemma.
“You see, Sir, we are now entering the third week of class. I am studying everything you have assigned. I never miss a lecture and take copious notes. Yet my test scores are Ds and Fs.”
Continuing my explanation with greater fervency, I explained that I was on track to graduate Magna Cum Laude and had never struggled this much with any of my other courses. “It is my conclusion that your teaching style is the cause of my confusion,” I lamented. “You simply must teach differently so I can understand the material!”
If only there had been a hidden camera to capture the look I received as he shook his head and silently walked away. Did he just walk away from me? Was I not clear about my problem? Who does this guy think he is? He said nothing, offered nothing, and helped me with nothing! The nerve of this guy! What rude arrogance!
Okay. I know what you’re thinking. My situation was not exactly a matter of life and death. Maybe I could have sucked it up and swallowed a D for the course. But I just could not take D for an answer.
All my hard work, all the studying to keep up my GPA, graduating with honors… all of it was falling off a cliff. From what my natural eyes could see, I had neither the time nor the resources to turn it around. My goose was cooked!
If you ever have an opportunity to read II Chronicles 20, I highly recommend it, especially verses 1-30. Without going into a lot of detail, let’s just say that King Jehoshaphat was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Based on what his natural eyes could see, there seemed neither the time nor resources to turn the situation around. His goose was cooked and so was all of Israel.
But the Bible says that in the midst of his dilemma, he inquired of the Lord. Basically, King Jehoshaphat chose to call upon the grace of God in his hour of need. He put his faith in God, in God’s limitless ability and power, rather than his limitations or the supposed bigness of the situation he was facing.
Taking my que from his dilemma, I decided to employ the same strategy. Driving home that evening I chose to inquire of the Lord. Then God began to speak to my heart about my attitude and belief system. He showed me the false judgments I had made concerning who I was, what I had and what I could achieve. And he showed me how I had placed limitations on myself concerning my ability to understand statistics. Because I saw myself after the flesh and not after the spirit, I was responding to the situation in the same manner.
By making a judgment that statistics was for “elite brainiacs” I had also placed limitation on what God could do in and through me by the power of his grace. No surprise that I was receiving according to my beliefs and expectations.
Thankfully, I was able understand the benefit of seeing myself as God saw me… after the spirit, with the same wisdom, understanding and ability as Christ himself. Rather than hoping for the instructor to shift his teaching style, I needed to shift my thinking style. I needed to think with the mind of Christ.
I needed to see myself after the spirit. I needed to understand who I was, what I had and what I could achieve by God’s grace and power on the inside of me. This is what I prayed.
“Heavenly Father, I bring you my limitations concerning this situation. And I also surrender any judgments I have made about who I am, what I can do and what I can have based on my human limitations. Although my natural mind can’t comprehend the challenge before me, thank you that I am not limited by my human limitation. Because your spirit lives in me I have the mind of Christ. Replace my feeble limited ability with your strength and ability in this situation, by the power of your grace… the power of your spirit at work in me. Father, let your grace abound in me greater than this circumstance and difficulty. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
Two days later I was back in the classroom. As usual the instructor began his lecture with equations that covered every square inch of two entire chalkboards. And, as usual, I sat there, clueless and lost, understanding nothing. Then I remembered my prayer and chose to call on the grace of God amid my inadequacy. I silently inquired of the Lord again.
“Father, give me the ability… your ability, by your grace to understand what this man is saying. I’ve got nothing, Lord. But that’s okay because you know this subject more than anyone. You are the creator of mathematics. So as an act of faith I choose to put my faith in the wisdom and understanding that your grace has already provided to me through the spirit of Jesus that lives in me. I absolutely renounce my own limitations with this situation and receive the limitless resources of your grace towards me as a free gift!” Amen.
Suddenly, in an instant, I saw it! It was as if a switch was turned on in my mind and a waterfall of understanding began to flow. In a matter of seconds, I went from comprehending nothing to comprehending everything, as if I had always known it. It took all my composure not to shout with joy. It was like being completely blind one minute and then receiving perfect vision the next! It was a miracle of grace.
From that moment on everything changed. My understanding of the subject was almost entertaining. I finished the homework assignments with little to no effort. I scored a B on the next test, then A’s on all the others. To top it off, I scored 100 on the final exam and completed the course with a glowing yet grateful “A.” The instructor actually called me a Geek! Coming from someone with a doctorate in mathematics, it was one of the nicest compliments I had ever received.
Romans 5:20 tell us, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds more.” Basically, that means where the philosophy and belief systems of this world abounds, where the self-imposed limitations abound, where unbelief and bitterness and prejudice abounds, where self-loathing and cynicism and false humility abounds, where fear and worry and depression and pride abounds, grace is already made available to overcome it.
For anyone who puts their faith in Christ… for the believer, the limitless provisions of grace already exist to overcome every situation, every circumstance, every challenge, and every perplexing condition, by the power of Christ that lives in them.
But in order to access it, we have to ask and believe. 2 Peter 1:3 puts it this way, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of him…”
That means everything we need for this life (present and future) is already available to us because of God’s spirit that lives in us. It means our born-again spirit is perfect and lacking nothing (James 1:4).
Putting faith in what God’s grace has provided is how we gain access. It’s how we renew our minds. It’s how we can walk after the spirit. It’s how we overcome the impossible.
What I’m trying to say is… Grace is God’s part. Faith is our part. Abounding is when they are working together. When we put our faith in what God’s grace has already provided, we are given the “Ability to Abound” through his power, provision, and promises.
Rather than fretting over circumstances or striving to change someone else, we can simply ask God for the ability to put our faith in his grace greater than the situation or difficulty.
We need to let the Word of God paint a picture in our hearts and minds concerning who we are, what we have and what we can do because of God’s grace and power on the inside of us.
Just know that whatever difficulty or limitation is presently abounding in your life, the solution is to ask for more faith to believe in the provision of God’s grace that already lives in you. Remember, our limitations are just that, our human natural fleshly limitations.
But God’s power has no limitations. Putting our faith in his unlimited ability is how we abound no matter what the natural world around us might indicate.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)