Yesterday my children accomplished something incredible. They managed to cycle a distance of 86 kilometers in 6.5 hours of cycling time. We had set out to explore the east end of Montreal Island, which should have taken about 72 kilometers but we took a different way home which added another 14 kilometers to our journey. We discovered quite the diversity in our travels, cycling through downtown, industrial areas, lower income housing, middle class areas, streets of mansions, wild life parks, sewage treatment plants, great sea ports, rushing rivers, quiet ponds, scenes of great beauty and tranquility. We live in a great city of diversity. But the real story here is my children who went beyond anything I thought they could do and even beyond anything they expected to accomplish.
My children who went on this great adventure with me are aged 8, 11, and 13 years of age. My 8 year old daughter continues to astound me with her spirit of determination and her raw strength to overcome these challenges. She has become the great provoker of her older brothers who refuse to be outdone by their little sister. Even though I knew they were tired and were looking forward to the end of the adventure, there was no complaining. In fact, my 11 year old son wanted to start planning our next cycling outing. Even my wife and I went beyond what we thought we could do. I was pulling the child buggy with my joyful son Ty who was quite happy to relax while colouring, playing games and singing. With the supplies added in it ended up being an extra 75 lbs I was hauling for 86 kilometers. I had doubted I could do the 72 kilometers with that load.
The point I want to make here is that we can do far more than we think we can do. As well, other people are not limited by our expectations. We often set our limits far too low and never live up to the greatness God re-created us for. We often fill our day with complaints about our "adventures", not understanding why God would allow us to face such things. We often allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed, lost, facing the impossible, failing to remember that Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. Sometimes we even get to that place where we would rather just lay down and die, allowing sadness, depression and loneliness to fill our heart with darkness.
We forget that we are on a journey filled with adventures that develop the character of Jesus in us. This is God's design and purpose, not an accident of fate. Complaining sets up blockages in this journey, blockages that we put in place. Our complaining is like a self-set limit, when we throw ourselves to the ground and refuse to go on. Complaining destroys the joy of the journey and turns it into a terrible chore that we want to end, now. We lose all the benefits of the process and end up going through it, gaining nothing, doomed to repeat it until we learn the lesson. Our sights are set on the moment but our Father is preparing us for greater things, for eternity.
We do not know our limits, often setting the bar too low but our Father knows and he continues to move the bar higher on us:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
It is a matter of trust. Do you trust the promises of God? Do you trust what Jesus demonstrated and what he taught, and even what he did on the cross? Do you trust that our Father has only your best interest at heart so that we can read this and understand:
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
On this incredible journey of character building the words that bring us the greatest comfort, peace and assurance are the words of Jesus:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (John 14:1)
And we should understand this process that is explained to us in a few different places in the word:
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)
I know that complaining comes second nature to us but such complaining opens the door to so many other negative things. It robs us of the glory of God, of what he is producing in us, of what our Father is accomplishing in our character as he moves us beyond our self-set limits. As he challenges us and encourages us out of our comfort zone, go along with him, trust and obey. You will be amazed what he is able to do through our willingness on this journey. Don't allow your comfort to become a block to his glory and goals for you. Even when you feel the journey is beyond you remember, our Father would never ask you to do what he is not willing to finish through you. So go for it, throw off that complaining Spirit, trust and be prepared to be amazed.