Signposts: Daily Devotions

Saturday, October 4

Where were you when I said, “This far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped?"
—Job 38:11

Last summer a storm rolled across Lake Superior, remaking the beaches along its sandy south shore. The creek that runs into the lake had to cut a new path. The beaches that were full of footprints the day before were swept clean. One could see precisely how far the waves reached towards land. Little bits of bark, small ripples of sand, each said the wave came “this far, and no farther.”

The storm had its limits.

The waves had their limits.

The beach, despite its changes, had its limits.

There is something about limits that we resist. We should be able to accomplish whatever we'd like. We should be able to solve whatever problem comes our way. We should be able to show that limits, like records, are made to be broken. There is no disease that cannot be healed, no argument that can't yield.

But God's words to Job give us a different understanding of limits. It is God who said to the waves—here is the limit. It is God who gives each of us a life span that has its limits. It is God who establishes order.

Without that coherence, our lives would be chaotic. Although we sometimes think of limits as a shackle, the limits of our lives, and of life, are stunningly beautiful. The sunlight reaches “this far,” and then the shadows gently appear. The storm's chaos reaches the beach, but no farther. Even in times of disaster, there are limits. Floodwaters reach “so far,” but then they stop.

When we resist the limits of our lives, it is good to remember that the God who authored the storm, also authored its limits. There is nothing static about these limits. Tomorrow there will be another storm, more waves reaching for land, a new set of limits and perhaps a new appreciation that Jesus is both the author, and the finisher, of our faith.

Gracious God, thank you for ordering our lives. May we find your presence as you call us forth, send us back, and call us forth yet again. Amen.

The Signposts for October are written by The Rev. Larry Pray, who for twenty years served as a pastor for the United Church of Christ in Minnesota and Montana, until a disability meant that he had to find new ways to express life. His first book was Journey of a Diabetic, about learning to accept incurable disease. Other publications include Leading Causes of Life, co-authored with Gary Gunderson, and The Geography of Healing that includes interviews with pastors, doctors and hospital administrators about where it is that we heal.