Breaking Free Of Limitations

I had a good prayer walk this morning. I didn’t pray about much, but what I did pray about has the potential to be life changing. Today God showed me something about self imposed limitations and how much they can affect my life.

Each morning during my prayer walk there’s  a certain spot where there is always a very long railway train. I see it every morning without fail, it’s always planted there like a tree. But today was different- As I came around the bend there was no train, just a beautiful wide open view of the Columbia River. I immediately realized this is how my life is- I get very used to the view, to how things are, the landscape of my life as it were, and I never stop to think that life could be very different with a simple change of viewpoint.

I wondered, “What kind of obstacles are like that train? What things are in my way that might prevent me from seeing God’s plan for my life? Is it possible that there’s a very long train, so to speak, obscuring my view? Something that I’ve just gotten so used to that I never stop to think about what’s on the other side?”

During my walk this morning, with the train gone, I saw a wide open vista!

Peter, the rugged Apostle, had that problem. He had limited vision. He saw salvation as being for the Jew, not the Gentile. His vision was so taken up by that notion that he could not see the wide open vista that God had in mind. Jew and Gentile were both part of God’s plan for salvation. Peter was excluding all other people groups and possibilities! God had a very big plan, Peter’s was very small and limited.

Here was God’s plan:

“And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” -Revelation 5:9

Peter had no problem seeing God’s plan for the Jews, but he couldn’t see beyond that. How was Peter going to get to the place where he was willing to ditch his limited vision and accept God’s grand design that included people from “from every tribe and language and people and nation”? God needed to change Peter’s viewpoint to include Gentiles and He did it by giving Peter a profound vision.

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” -Acts 10: 9-19

Peter had a major preconception in his mind about Gentiles- He considered them “unclean” and unworthy of being made clean. It just so happened that the men standing at Peter’s door were Gentiles, and the vision God gave Peter was part of God’s plan to change Peter’s mind about the Gentiles and God’s plan for them. If Peter was ever going to fulfill God’s purpose for his life he needed a major adjustment to his viewpoint. God was including the Gentiles in His plan of salvation and Peter needed to fall in line!

We are just like Peter in that respect. We have our ideas, notions, viewpoints and expectations of what God has done, is doing, and will do in our life. We are blocked by our preconceptions, just as I was blocked by a train from seeing the Columbia River during my prayer walks. I never saw the river. I was missing an awesome view because I couldn’t see beyond the train!

One of the greatest obstacles keeping me from seeing what my life could be or should be right now is my past. The past sits there like that train on the tracks, stopped and blocking my present view! I might love that train, it might be quaint and bring back happy memories of days gone by, but maybe that train is getting in the way of new things that God has for me- Maybe my past was never meant to be my future and getting stuck there is preventing me from seeing the new things God has in store for me. Getting that long and heavy train of the past to move can be very, very difficult. That was the case for Peter; he needed a vision from God in order to leave his past behind and move into God’s present plan.

This morning I realize how much I’m like Peter- It’s very difficult to change long held assumptions.

This morning I realize more than ever why God says…

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it?” -Isaiah 43:18