Have you ever been in a situation in which you reached your limits?
This happened to me recently.
This fall, I took a Greek language class. You needed an 85 to move on to the next course for the winter term. I was hovering in the low 80s just before the final exam. I studied for hours, wrote the test, and walked home unsure of my fate. A couple of days later an email came from my professor saying I didn’t meet the mark, and would need to take an extra exam the first week of January. If I didn’t do well on the upcoming exam, I wouldn’t be able to move on to the second Greek course. I was deflated. I didn’t want this to overshadow my Christmas holidays so I took a one-week break from studying. New Year’s Day morning I hit the books.
Then came the exam….
I can’t tell you what it was like writing the exam other than I felt like I was in a courtroom, with a sentence of judgment hanging over my head; no matter how hard I tried, if I made one too many mistakes…it was over! No exceptions, no excuses permitted, the final mark would be my sentence. I had moments of hope as I was writing, only to have spells of concern every once in awhile when I wasn’t confident in an answer. Running out of time at the end, I handed the exam in. I went home, doubtful I had passed. Discouraged and deflated, I kept thinking to myself, “No! I don’t want to take this class over again.”
My limits were exposed.
This is why I was deflated. It was unsettling to realize that trying my best may still not be enough. For most of us, we can easily go from one day to another thinking we have a lot more control over life then we actually do. Then we get a phone call or fail in something and once again, we become aware of our limits. In realizing my limits, I looked outside of myself for strength. I looked to one whose control of life is absolute and whose character I could trust. I looked to God, made known through Jesus. To some, this is weakness. To others, it is wisdom. But what happened to me in bringing my need for control to him was that his peace took control of me and in an unexpected way, I discovered the freedom of my limitations. The freedom of causing me to rely on him who has no limitations.
Saturday came and I noticed an email in my inbox from the exam proctor. It said in the preview: “Dear Eric, based on the results from your Greek Proficiency Exam……” My heart was racing, I didn’t know if I wanted to find out. I took a breath and opened the email. Scanning it quickly, I noticed the word “authorized” and was taken aback. Unbelievable! I had passed! I jumped out of my seat and threw my arms up in celebration, shocking my wife: “I passed!”
This news would have been no big deal had Greek been easy for me. But in being forced to see my own limitations and look outside of myself, I saw this news in a new way: as an unexpected gift of mercy from him who knows no limitations.
Maybe for you, greek is no problem at all. But I bet there are other areas of your life which when challenged, your limitations would be revealed.
What are some of your limitations? Do you think there can be freedom in discovering our limitations?