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  • Writer's pictureJaci Mun-Gavin

Unhurried | The Gift of Limitations

I’m a young mum rushing kids out of the car and the curious one with ribbons in her hair asks innocently, “Why are we hurrying?” I have no answer. We’re not late. There is no finite deadline. It’s just the pace. It’s faster than this. They need to keep up with the pace of life; my pace of life. And I speed them up and we hurry, ribbons flowing as she runs to keep up with me.

I’m a tired pastor given the day off and I am sitting at home with not much to do and the hurry within me is frustrated at the lack of output. There are things to be done and I’m wasting time not doing them, and who’s bright idea was it to send me home in the middle of the work week? The sitting still is exhausting as I suppress the anxiety of non-productivity. The little girl’s question from so long ago still haunts me: Why are we hurrying? And I wonder, Who or what is dictating the pace?

I’m a middle-aged mentor to an upcoming young leader and she sits across the table from me and sighs. “There are so many dreams I’m never going to get to accomplish. I feel like I’m never going to live up to my potential.”

I’ve seen it so many times. I’ve sighed the same sigh for the same reason. And the more potential we think we have, the more pressure we feel to live up to it all. I remember when Richard and I bought our first full-blown house, with a rambling garden and too many out-buildings for us to ever maintain. “It has lots of potential,” they said—each one—as we showed them around the property. When we eventually sold, we had actualised a tenth of it, if that. I grew to hate the word.

As we follow Jesus, let me ask you this… do you think Jesus reached the limit of his human potential? Do you think he could have done more? Advanced the kingdom further? Healed a few more people? Changed a few more lives? Surely he felt the responsibility to reach and touch and change as many people as he was humanly able?

And yet the One through whom all creation found its existence submits to human limitation without straining at its bounds. He is content to live within his finite limits as he serves an infinite mission. The mission of bringing the Kingdom on earth will never be finished this side of eternity, and so he paces himself as a finite player in an infinite game.

I comfort the upcoming leader with my own revelation of the same. The question, Why are we hurrying? eventually found its answer in the realisation that I had mislabelled both the player and the game. In the game of life, I assumed that if I just pushed a little harder for a little longer, I would succeed. I assumed infinite personal resources and a finite endgame. But I was wrong. The endgame, as it turns out is infinite—where is the finish line? When have I done enough? Given enough? Served enough? Loved enough? The game of life has no predetermined end. I could not win. Life burns through our personal resources until, eventually, we admit that they are, in fact, finite and therefore never enough.

And so I share with a future leader what I wish had been shared with my younger self—the mantra that is now written in my bathroom cupboard: I am limited and inadequate; loved and chosen. As a self-actualising mantra in a world of ‘being all you can be,’ it is terrible! But for me—a finite player in an infinite game—it has settled my identity like no other. The gift of limitations has focused my attention, focused my resources, reminded me that God is God and I am not, but what I am, I give back to him in love.

As I get up from the table and walk back to my own life, my pace is slower than it was in years gone by. These days, a little girl could walk with me, keeping up with my pace, holding my hand. But the little girl is an adult now and the ribbons long abandoned. Yesterday is gone and I have only this day and the numbered days to come to walk at the pace of love, in a life that has space for love.

I call up the little girl, all grown up, and invite her out for coffee. She has plenty of time for me. We sit and talk until they close up shop—unhurried, happy, living the slow, simple life.

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1 Comment

May 31

So true Jaci. We forget to just slow down in life and take it all in. One can't turn back the clock and change how hurried we used to be when our kids were younger, but we can use the time we have with them now to slow down with them and spend that precious time together.💛

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