Many who’ve been around me when I’ve heard just the right trigger know that I have a few favorite “soapboxes” at the ready to pull out and climb right up on to share my self-acclaimed wisdom for all to hear. (Hmmm, wait, isn’t that kind of what I do every time I write on this blog? But I digress…) One example many have heard is my speech about the term, “Lessons Learned.” In a nutshell, I’d like to see the term changed to “Lessons Observed” since most of the time we just record what went wrong and “learning” isn’t real until behavior changes… Glad I didn’t pull out the soapbox all the way?
There’s a pseudo-spiritual phrase that many utter in tricky times that’s another hot button for me: “God never gives you more than you can handle!” It sounds wise, it sounds spiritual, it even sounds Biblical. Think about Job, didn’t God only allow what he could handle? Maybe Esther–she looked inside and found the strength…
The problem is, this isn’t Biblical. It’s really the opposite of what the Bible shows us. Let’s start with one of the basic implications of this–that God would love for us to be self-sufficient. I offer Jesus’ words as a counter argument: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV) God wants us to be intimately connected to Him and dependent on Him–not so we will be weak, but so we will choose His offer of strength over our own. This is a daily and moment by moment choice for me, a question of whether in fact all He’s given me in my life is what I can handle on my own or if instead I’ll trust God and give in to His will over my own.
And another big lesson from Jesus comes into play here as well, this one from the parable of the ten talents (found in Matthew 25:14-30). This parable gives us the very clear insight that God wants us to take good care of even the small gifts and help He gives us–if we do, He’s very interested in trusting us with more, and more. Sorry to say, that goes for the challenges we face as well. The challenges we face in life generally seem to grow as we mature in general, but in particular as our faith grows. And this testing is very clearly about our growth in faith James 1:2-4 tells us.
So, how much will God give us? I believe based on all of this and more of what I’ve seen of God that He really isn’t interested in giving us what we can handle–He will give us enough to encourage us to turn toward Him. In fact, the more we try to handle things ourselves, apart from Him, He’ll give us more and more to lead us closer to where there’s nowhere to turn but Him. And if He’s only giving us what we can handle, we should probably be a bit concerned that He’s not interested in our growth or even that He’s done with us.
For me, it’s still a case of trying to be faithful with my 10 talents and seeing what more He is willing to trust me with. I know I’m not too great with it all, but I’m pretty sure that trying to handle it all myself isn’t going to work…
(Putting soapbox away now.)