We all can’t be hands

Many have approached this new year with ideas of things they would like to do differently this time through. It’s really nice to have a fresh start. We all need places and times to begin again.

However, I ask you to proceed with caution. It’s easy to give yourself goals that may be unrealistic or unobtainable. If you’re like me, your to-do list is massively long. I keep starting new lists of stuff I need to do. Then I tend to start newer lists that are more current or more urgent.

In First Corinthians 12, Paul reminds us that every person has their strengths and weaknesses. It’s all too easy to look at the person who gets more glory and say, “I need to be more like them.” Maybe you don’t! Maybe it’s better to look at the way God created you and figure out how to be better within the gifts that God has given you.

I played violin in middle school and a bit in high school and college. Twenty years later, I was given the opportunity to play again through the graces of a low-risk orchestra. I spent an hour with the violin and realized the amount of time and emotional energy it would have taken me to reach a level of satisfaction were more than I had to give. So I quit before I began again. Was I wrong? Maybe.

It’s definitely good to push ourselves beyond our limits, sometimes. We all know that if we stay too close to our comfort zones, we will never grow. But staying in that place of discomfort can cause burnout or even worse. Remember, “God has put each part just where he wants it.” If you don’t know, figure out where that place is. Live there. And grow there.

(Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.)

7 thoughts on “We all can’t be hands

  1. Rich Dixon

    Interesting to encounter these thoughts this am. I’ve set a big goal for 2011, a sort of “bucket list” issue that’s been in my heart for a long time. I was excited, but now even the thought of beginning feels overwhelming. I’ve told myself exactly what you said about the violin.

    How do you think we know when it’s right to give up and when we should press forward? How do we know when it’s God’s voice versus our own fear or laziness or whatever?

    What do others think?


  2. paulmerrill

    Good questions, Rich. I don’t have any definitive answers, but I’d say it would be good to ask God, as you examine your motives – continually. Also, it’s good to seek the advice of trusted friends as you grapple with these issues. (But then, Job didn’t have much success with that angle.)


  3. Pingback: Living where you need to be | Shiny Bits of Life

  4. Marti Smith

    Hi Paul! Appreciate your gracious perspective. A small group I’m part of has been discussing the book “Radical” and has been running into some of these issues. Talking about ways we could or couldn’t see ourselves reaching out. I realized for many of them, making a meal and taking it to a family fighting cancer was an “anyone can do this” thing (not for me) and “talk to an international” (though fun for me) was not. One woman just said that she and her husband were not “people” people but that whipping out their checkbook was easy. Yeah, right, I thought. Talking to new people isn’t hard! But, maybe it is. When I found a $1000 check for my ministry in her Christmas card I was challenged to stop judging her and also to be more deliberate and generous with what God has given me, too.


  5. Joseph Ruiz

    Paul, once again a timely post. I have just finished Dallas Willard’s Hearing God book. As I read your post and the comments I realize how strong my drive is to be approved by others, to be a human doing instead of a human being. Rich you ask really good questions, i want answers to those.

    But what i am finding is God is challenging me to listen to him in new ways. Yes I am trying to take advantage of the new year, i want to do things differently. There are deeply formed habits and routines that need to be surrendered. I feel God saying to me “Do you trust me?” “Will you trust me?” and my first thought is “What does that look like?” And in response he seems to be saying “I will show you”. Of course there is always the is it me or him thing. But this feels different. Underlying my angst is a growing sense of peace. When i think about this past year I can almost hear Him say “so how is that working for you?” to which my response is slowly becoming “I think i will trust you.”

    Thanks for the reminder, i really needed to hear it.
    Grace and Peace to all of you.
    Happy New Year. Sure glad we have a Good Shepherd to guide us! 😉


Comments are closed