“This far you may come, but no farther….”

By the time you’re as old as Pete and I are, life has thrown some pretty dramatic curve balls. There have been periods of calm, joy, success, and everything going just right. And then there are those times when all hell breaks loose (literally), the enemy attacks, and you wonder what in the world God is doing!

Pete’s recent medical adventures (see my March 15 post: Pete Tries to Go to Heaven… Again) have proved to be both a “what in the world!” experience and a huge opportunity to know God better. One thing that God has impressed on me over the last few months is that He is in charge even when everything is going crazy.

While I’ve had glimpses of this truth many times in the past, it was hammered home this time. I realized…

  • In February, Pete and I drove from Colorado to Florida and back. While we took turns, he did most of the driving. If Pete’s heart had gone into V-fib at that time, the car would have crashed.
  • Both coming and going, our route took us through New Mexico, the Texas panhandle, and Oklahoma. Much of the time, we were out in the middle of nowhere. No towns. No ranches. Often (especially in Texas), miles passed without another car on the road. No medical facilities. No AED to shock his heart. If Pete’s heart had gone into V-fib at that time, he would have been dead.
  • The evening before Pete collapsed at the YMCA during his morning workout, he had driven the hour-plus trip to Denver to meet with a friend for dinner. Again, if Pete’s heart had gone into V-fib at that time, the car would have crashed—most likely on the interstate.

Instead, Pete’s heart had gone into V-fib at the Y, where there were trained staff members, an AED defibrillator, and the hospital ER was just across the street.

I have this mental image of God cradling Pete in His hands. We’re driving through the desert, and He tenderly keeps Pete’s heart pumping. Pete is driving through Denver traffic, and He tenderly keeps Pete’s heart pumping. Then finally, as Pete goes to the gym and begins his workout on the elliptical machine, with essential resources close at hand, God sees everything is ready, and bam, down Pete goes.

Yes, Pete spent 12 days in the hospital. He had quad by-pass surgery. He’s currently dealing with blood clots (likely due to the removal of the leg vein used for the by-pass). But he’s here. He’s functional—going to work, puttering around the house, loving on his family and friends. And we’re praising God.

In the first chapter of the book of Job, Satan comes and asks God for permission to attack Job. God gives a qualified yes in verse 12:

 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

It’s that qualified ‘yes” that caught my attention. Yes, but. Yes, you can attack his belongings (including his children!), but not Job himself.

Later, Satan receives permission to torment Job physically, but again, God insists that Job remain alive:

“The Lord answered the Adversary, ‘There he is—within your power; only preserve his life.’” (Job 2:6)

As in the case of Job, Satan is sometimes allowed to attack us. God permits it for reasons we may or may never understand. But in every instance, God remains sovereign. Satan is on a leash, and he can only do so much, go so far.

Later, near the end of the book, God is reminding Job of His majesty—and how much high He is than us puny humans. In Job 38:8-11, some of my favorite verses, God says to the sea, “This far you may come, but no farther….”

What is true of the sea is true in our lives. Even when we’re going through hard times, harder than we can imagine, God knows how much we—with His presence—can handle. This far, and no farther.

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