The ability to ever expand our influence and understanding today via technology is obvious. We can access information via the internet; we can disseminate it through all manner of social media. With this increase comes a sense of tension with reality—or even a blatant denial of reality. As with the 2011 Bradley Cooper movie, many seem to refuse to acknowledge our God designed limitations.
A psychological study recently conducted indicated that the ability to ‘Google’ a question on the computer contributes to people believing they are smarter than they are. Another way of saying that is—they overestimate their capacities and underestimate the limitations of their knowledge.
Kevin Deyoung addresses this in his book, Crazy Busy. ‘The biggest deception of our digital age may be the lie that says we can be omni-competent, omni-informed and omni-present. We cannot be any of these things. We must choose our absence, our inability and our ignorance, and we must choose wisely.’
Embracing limitations is the only way to truly live a human life. God has made us to live one life, located in a specific geographic place, with the ability to truly know a limited number of people. We have been placed here to sustain certain things and change others—we cannot do everything. The alternative is not a universal life, but rather a watered down and diffused life, potentially missing the real, tangible blessings in front of us.
One way the refusal to accept our finitude manifests itself is in mental/emotional paralysis. You can get stuck in the process of trying to choose a career or a spouse. Endlessly worrying that you might be missing something better that you just don’t know about, we run the risk of missing the real ‘good’ which is right in front of us. C.S. Lewis defended monogamy with this insight: ‘Forsaking all women is a small price to pay for truly knowing one.’
If our limitations are indeed God-designed, then there is a happiness that comes from embracing them, as with every other aspect of recognizing the way we and the world are made. A person might be frustrated (or injured!) trying to use a screwdriver as a hammer. Recognizing what something is made for enables it to be truly used well.
The Christmas season is a good time to embrace this idea. The wants of our children–even our own–may wildly outstrip the budget. The demands on our time to fulfill a huge list of customary obligations can drive out the joy of a great time of year. You do not have to do everything. In fact, you would probably be less happy if you could. Rejoice in your limitations, even your weaknesses. Christmas is a time to remember that there is One who is Limitless—and for our sake, He allowed himself to be restricted to the confines of a manger:
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 NAS/NIV/ESV)
A joyful, limited, embodied, and hope-filled Christmas to you all!