There was a time in my life when I had God pretty well figured out. I knew the limits of God’s love. I was exceptionally clear on who was on the inside and who belonged on the outside. I had a clear idea of the boundaries of God’s grace. All of that crashed when life did not go the way I expected it to. The world I inhabited was shattered. Everything changed. I scrambled to make sense of the unexpected place I now lived. It meant rebuilding my life from the ground up.
I was forced to rethink my understanding of who God is, how God loves and all those limits I’d set. In retrospect, I realize that my sudden falling was good for my soul. At the time, I was more distressed than wise enough to see which of my values and beliefs needed to change. I needed a larger vision of God, a more grace filled knowledge of God. I needed to stop assuming the limits of God’s love were set by me.
Our judging others has a way of coming back to us. Criticize some parents for the way they are raising their children, and a few days later you’re reminded of your own imperfect parenting skill. Complain about a person’s lack of work ethic, only to find your own employment status change. The passing of time and a healthy dose of life experience alter our perspective. Jesus spoke to our condition when he told us to “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1-2 RSV) Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible uses this phrase, “That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.” I have landed in that unwelcome boomeranging spot more often that I would like to admit.
But, still there is grace. Grace comes in growing compassion for people who face challenges that we have never faced. Grace is born in an awareness of the blessings we have been given . . . blessings which have empowered us where others have had difficulty. Grace is given, when we step outside our judging and reach out to a person who needs our love. For where would we be, if others had not reached out to us in our own moments of falling?
*First Published as “God’s Limits or Ours?” January 16, 2015