Embracing One’s Finitude
Today I’m thinking about a topic which has really hit me on the head recently. Something that should be obvious, duh! But if you look around, especially here in America, you’d be surprised how little people even realize it. We as Christians are called to embrace it, what we call, “One’s Finitude.”
King Solomon said that there is “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Eccles. 3:1): a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time for war, and a time for peace. What Solomon did not say is that there is time for everything. He said that there was a time for everything, but he didn’t exactly say that there was time for everything. And sometimes it seems like there isn’t enough time.
I have had plenty of reminders of this during the past semester. I’ve taken 18 units in school which are intense upper division Bible classes with a lot of reading and without leaving out greek which requires much time to memorize and understand. I’ve tried to get through it quicker by piling up all those classes and thinking I’d breeze through them like nothing but it’s more harder than one would think. Yeah one can get through them but it’ll be done in a mediocre manner because of the load of work that each class demands. So that has been my major failure this semester. It’s not the first time I’ve taken 18 units, the last time was in Junior College, it was easier, but it was still plenty of work. So I’m quite foolish for not thinking it through but going forward on the challenge of trying to take on too much work. One of the main reasons I did this on my defense was because I did not want to have to spend an additional semester’s tuition which would have been another 15-20k added to my debt of which has gotten to be a lot. A lack of faith, maybe? Trying to speed up the process, definitely. Anyway, it might end up backfiring on me, but God works all things for our good (Rom. 8:28).
Aside from school work I have been working 20-25 hrs. a week in my part-time job. I know I’m crazy, it’s not smart trust me I’m going through it. I have stopped doing ministry work for a while because I just do not have enough time but I hope to resume it soon. I have definitely not stopped meeting in small group Bible study which is really refreshing to my spirit to do. Keep me in prayer as I have only 6 more weeks left before this busy semester is over. If I pass all my classes I will only be taking 1 class next semester but if I don’t then I might have to take a few more. And if I fail greek well it’ll be a sad story. I hope I do not. I have struggled with Greek since I began studying it just hasn’t caught on but maybe it’s because I have not given it the time it demands.
In the midst of all the hustle and bustle I have been trying (though not always succeeding) to recognize my limits, to “embrace finitude,” as I like to put it. “Embrace finitude,” I say to myself while waiting for the computer to print, frustrated that it does not operate at the speed of thought. “Embrace finitude,” I say, when I’m not sure how I will get everything done, or when I will have time to finish school work assignment. “Embrace finitude,” I ought to say (but usually don’t) when traffic keeps me from getting where I need to go, when I want to get there.
There are valuable spiritual lessons to learn from not being able to do everything we want to do. For starters, it reminds us that we are not God. Now this may seem like an obvious truth, but it to me it does not come easily. I would like to know everything I want to know, be everywhere I want to be, and do everything I want to do. But I can’t. And this is all part of not being God. Only God can be in more than one place and do more than one thing at one time. He alone is all-present, all-powerful, and all-knowing. Embracing finitude means knowing that he’s God, and I’m not. It means accepting my limitations as a sign that I am only a creature, not the Creator.
Embracing finitude also means living by faith. I need to trust that God has given me enough time to do the things he has actually called me to do. This doesn’t mean that I have enough time to do all the things I want to do. Nor does it mean that there won’t be times when, through my own negligence and sin, I won’t have enough time. If I squander the time God has given me, then I won’t have all the time I need to do what I’m supposed to do. But I still need to trust God for time as much as for everything else. Rather than stressing out over all the things I don’t think I have time to do, I need to live by faith, trusting God to give me the grace to do what truly needs to be done.
I also need to trust God to take care of the things I don’t have time to look after. God has made us one body with many gifts. No single Christian is designed or called to meet anyone else’s total needs. Only God can do that. But God uses his people—with all the variety of their gifts—to help do his work in people’s lives. It doesn’t all depend on me. When there is a need, often there is someone else who can meet it better than I can. So I simply need to trust the sovereign God to take care of all the things I am unable to accomplish.
There is one more thing to learn from our limitations, which is that we are made for another world. Why do we get so frustrated when we don’t have time to do all the things we want to do? In part it is because we are destined to live forever. As the Scripture says, “God has set eternity in the hearts of men” (Eccles. 3:11). But right now we are still living in a world where time is running out, a world doomed for destruction. As the Scripture also says, “The time is short” (1 Cor. 7:29). And every day takes us one step closer to the end. Though we do not like to admit it, we know that this is true. And because we were made to be immortal, we rebel against the limits of time. We are longing for the dawn of a longer day, when we will open our arms to receive infinity. In the meantime, finitude is like gravity: we can’t escape it. So why not embrace it?
*I got some of this content from a blog I ran into online. It’s from Dr. Philip Ryken “Embracing Finitude.”
The link is below if you want to read it.
Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!
- Be Bored (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
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- When is Finitude? (sportsbabel.net)
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- Solomon’s answer (caneycreektexas.wordpress.com)
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- The sky is falling! The sky is falling! (literarylew.wordpress.com)
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