I recently read a book – Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. (You can read all about her here on her blog or here on her ministry’s website.) I wish I could tell you all about her in a sentence. It’s impossible but here’s my best shot: she’s a young woman who went to Africa after high school and fell in love, decided to stay, and has adopted 14 Ugandan girls as her daughters while serving hundreds more children, orphans, widows, and elderly. And while the whole book spoke to me, overwhelmed me – there was one particular passage that stands out above all the rest. And I’d like to share it with you:
“Remember, God will never give you more than you can handle.”
People repeat this frequently; I heard it when I was growing up and I hear it now. It is meant to be a source of encouragement, and it would be if I believed it were true.
But I don’t.
I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle. Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives. …
I have learned to accept it, even ask for it, this “more than I can handle.” Because in these times, God shows Himself victorious. He reminds me that all of this life requires more of HIm and less of me. God does give us more than we can handle. Not maliciously, but intentionally, in love, that His glory may be displayed, that we may have no doubt of who is in control, that people may see His grace and faithfulness shining through our lives.
And as I surrender these situations to HIm, watch Him take over and do the impossible, I am filled with joy and peace – so much more than I can handle.
—Kisses from Katie, excerpts from p.135-137
If you’ve been a part of a Chrisitian community – you’ve probably heard that “comforting” phrase before. If you haven’t, you might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about – but bear with me. I think there is something in this for everybody.
I am totally with Katie on this one. For much of my life, I’ve felt like I’ve had more to deal with than I possibly could deal with as one young, rather inexperienced person. And yet, I’m well educated, I’m smart, I’ve been blessed (or maybe shielded) by resources that I didn’t personally earn – and so I’ve dealt with it. I did in fact handle it. And pretty independently.
But that background musical theme of my life has had it’s volume turned up again, and not by me. It’s thundering, “More! More! Go deeper. Go beyond the shallows that you can so easily handle. Be willing to experience more.” And I’m starting to wonder: am I really handling these life things all that well independently? What if we all dug into life seeing challenges as impossible to face without the dying American arts of… Family. Community. God. Something beyond me.
Art of Honesty. Art of Community. Art of Life. I keep coming back to the idea that these precious parts of my experience on earth are not sciences. They cannot be managed and measured perfectly so as to be better prepared to answer the next question, conquer the next problem, do away with the next gut-wrenching pain. Well, they can… but at what cost? What do we miss out on when we deal with our struggles in ways that never make a space for the impossible to happen? If we never invite miracles to occur?
What if I seek challenge and contradiction – and depend on more than myself to learn, mature through hardship, and develop appreciation? Instead of managing the chaos, never wandering so deep as to be pulled out with the tide without rock or sand to stand on… what if I dove in head first, asking with an open heart for more than I can handle? What then? Why not?
What am I so afraid of?