Having No Limits

 In Reflections

Commenting on the biblical story of Adam and Eve and God’s invitation to have the fruit from every tree except one, John Kavanaugh writes “Ah, the attraction of having no limits.”

There is something about limits that occupies our attention and possesses our spirit. They seem to bring out both the best in us and our worst. How does one deal with the reality of limits in our lives?

Most Mondays I drive to San Antonio to meet people for spiritual direction and then head back to Austin in 5:00 p.m. traffic. I watch the cars weave in and out of the 3-lane highway as their drivers try to get to their destination faster than the 70 mile per hour speed limit will allow. It is as though the speed ‘limit’ does not apply to them. And there are those who drink and drive, text and drive, rage and drive. I wonder: what is there in us that makes us think limits don’t apply to us? Is it, as Kavanaugh says, ‘an attraction of having no limits’?

Can we ever really become so free that we don’t have limits?

There is another biblical story found in the Gospel according to John (10:17-18) where Jesus says: ‘The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will’. Faced by his limit, Jesus both embraces that limit and is embraced by it also. And in doing so, he is indeed free. Some will say, ”Yes, that was Jesus.’ But, I have also seen this in a woman wracked by pain. I have heard it in a cry of desolation and watched it in the transformation of a man dying.

We each have limits. They are part of our human condition. In ‘leaning into’ the truth of those limits we become free. As Jesus says “as it is in my power to lay down my life, so too it is in my power to take it up again”. (verse 18). But the life we take up is not an ego-driven life, but one truly transformed by our engaging the limit. Listen to people who have dealt with cancer, the loss of a child, the spiral of depression, the overwhelm of job loss and you will hear the truth of limits – they form and transform our lives.

As we journey to Holy Week may you see and hear in the story of Jesus, Love’s transformation of limits and recognize that same grace in your own life.

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