Wednesday, February 15, 2012

OnFire #274 Living between the Red Lines

OnFire Encouragement Letter

OnFire #274 Living between the Red Lines

Last weekend the saga of the snowblower came to an end. After restarting the motor to finish the driveway, it revved way too fast and then there was a loud “pop.” The pushrod, broken and no longer bound to the crankshaft, smashed the thin walls of the engine. Judging from the pieces sprayed across my driveway, the motor will never start again.

I really enjoyed that little snowblower. I learned a lot about tuning the engine and I took a certain amount of pride in keeping it going. It was a nice mental break from what I normally do.

There are times I feel like that little machine, times when I wonder if life will rev to the point when something comes apart. I can’t be the only one who sometimes wonders how much more can be piled on and added before things suddenly go pop. That’s not a comfortable thought. Life doesn’t come with a red line to tell us where our limits are.

Now here’s a funny thought. I was at the gym the other day. Exhausted. Not really feeling like I wanted to be there, but knowing it was important to get some exercise, I hopped on the first machine to get some cardio. I wasn’t expecting good results. Just finish the workout, I thought, and go home for nap. A few minutes in, I felt my body respond to the challenge and the numbers on the electronic screen said I was working as hard as I normally do. I finished the weights and machines at full form. It made me wonder if it was mind over matter, that I was capable of more than I felt I was.

Some limits are real and some are imagined. If I go into the danger zone of the cardio monitor, I need to back off because my heart is at risk. Other times I need to push through because my limit is actually beyond where I think it is.

Reality is probably between these two lines, between where we think the limits are and where things go pop. It takes faith to work beyond our imagined limits, and discernment to know the real ones.

Paul knew something about living close to the limits, for real. “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope.” ( 2 Corinthians 1:9-10)

Discovering new limits means finding new trust in God. First, we have to hang in there to trust him more. And second, we discover new ways in which God is faithful. In both these ways we find new trust in God. Only when we run out of our strength do we discover God’s, and its a good thing, for at that point we don’t have what it takes. Paul writes, “On him we have set our hope.”

Hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a bi-weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Feb 15, 2012. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

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