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Load Limits

1 Corinthians 1:13 - No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

One of the interesting signs I have often encountered on road trips is the one that reads, “Load Limits Reduced 25%”. Of course, my first question has always been, “what is the original load limit?” and “how can I know if I am below the new load limit?” Of course, it is always easy to ignore these signs when you are in an automobile, but what about larger vehicles? How do you know if you are the one to exceed the road or bridge limit and have an unfortunate incident as a result?

I remember in 1967 at the age of nine reading about the collapse of the Silver Bridge in Ohio resulting in the deaths of some 46 people. It collapsed during rush hour traffic, and what was found later in the analysis of the collapse that the bridge was carrying a far heavier load than it should have, and as a result a single eye-bar failed resulting in the collapse of the entire bridge. By exceeding the load factor on the bridge the result was the loss of the bridge and the lives of anyone who happened to be on the bridge at the time.

As I thought about this it occurred to me that God knows our load limits in life. He has designed each and every one of us, and knows exactly what our breaking point is. One of the great promises in the New Testament is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 in which we are told that God will not allow us to be tested beyond our limits of endurance, but will always make a way of escape. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 103:14 that God knows our frame, and that we are but dust. He knows our breaking point and he has promised he will not allow us to be tested beyond that point.

To me that is a very comforting thought. I remember talking to someone recently who is going through a great trial and that person recounted how in a moment of despair they called out to God and said that they couldn’t take it anymore – their load limit had been exceeded. And in that moment they told me it was almost as if God audibly told them, “yes you can – my grace is sufficient!” Paul exulted in that in 2 Corinthians 12:9 where in referring to the “thorn in the flesh” he said God revealed to him, “my grace is sufficient – my strength is perfected in your weakness.” In other words God is promising that our load limit will not be exceeded and that God will strengthen us in the time of need so that we can bear up under whatever load we may find ourselves under.

As I navigate the waters of widowhood I am finding God to be true to his word. Prior to my wife's home going I often wondered if I would be able to endure life without her. What would it be like? How would I respond? Would I be able to face life alone? Would I ever laugh and be happy again? The questions went on. I remember many walks wrestling with God over these questions and to be honest I was often at the brink of despair thinking my load limit had been reached – but it had not. God was there to give me the strength and perspective to go on.

One of the many ways he strengthened me was through other believers. I remember one day in November walking on the street where I live and despairing to some extent over the news of Donna’s terminal cancer. I distinctly remember asking God for help and wisdom, and not five seconds later my phone rang. It was one of my students from Moody Distance Learning in California. He told me he felt God telling him to give me a call and pray for me – which he did on the phone at that instant. I remember that to be one of the turning points in my downward spiral to despair – God knew what I needed at that exact moment and he had someone standing by on the other side of the continent to encourage me when I needed it most. I have never had a student do that before, and never did I have one do that since - but at that moment it was exactly what I needed and it gave me comfort.

I can attest to this great truth – God is faithful and will not allow us to be tested beyond measure. He has strengthened me through this time of trial and has proven again and again he knows my load limit and will always insure no load is too great for me to bear.

One final note here – I have to remind myself not to fall into the Peter trap. When Christ walked on the water to the disciples it was Peter who got out of the boat to walk to the Lord. He did fine, until he started looking around at the waves and the wind and wondered what in the world he was doing on the water. When he took his eyes off of Christ he began to sink – and Christ had to reach out his hand and lift him up.

I have found when I keep my eyes on Christ – I can walk on the water just fine. But when I start looking around at my situation I begin to sink into despair – and at that time I have to cry out, “Lord save me”!

And he does!

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