Don’t Fence Me In!

When the boys were little they were not so aware of their surroundings, so when it came to crossing a busy street Laura and I would tell them that they had to hold our hand.  They were not always eager to grab hold because it felt like some kind of infringement on their personal freedom – like we were telling them to hold our hand because we wanted to bridle their fun.  But that was not the case at all.  We wanted them to hold our hand because we loved them, and we did not want a speeding bus to ruin their fun forever.  It is interesting how knowledge makes a big difference in perspective.  Because our boys were naïve about the dangers of traffic they viewed holding their parents hand as restrictive and overbearing.  But because Laura and I knew of the dangers, we viewed holding their hand as loving and protective.  I read today in the Message in the book of Proverbs, “Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines.”  I thought about how many times that I have tried surreptitiously to adjust the boundary lines of God to my advantage – or what I thought was my advantage.  I have asked myself the same question that Satan posed to Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Did God really say…”  It is so easy to think that God’s boundaries are not always in our best interest.  We can convince ourselves that we have a “special” situation, and that his boundaries obviously don’t apply to our circumstances.  I remember the time that an elderly neighbor gave my older sister two ten dollar bills that he wanted to give to the church.  He didn’t exactly say in so many words that he wanted to give it to the church, but it was definitely implied.  So as we sat together we sought to justify splitting the money between the two of us – by the time we got done talking we had assured each other that he actually wanted us to have it.  The truth is we were stealing the money, and we had sought to stealthily move back the boundary lines that God had established.  We thought it would be better for us, but when Monday arrived we were already feeling guilty.  It didn’t help that the next time we saw the elderly man that he asked us if we had put the money in the offering plate.  We instantly felt trapped and then we lied.  Now we felt even worse.  What we thought was going to bring us so much pleasure was now actually causing us a great deal of discomfort.  Satan has continued to challenge God’s boundaries over and over again in my life.  He knows that I don’t like to feel confined and fenced in so he constantly raises the question, “Did God really say…”  It is so easy to convince yourself in that moment that the line is negotiable; but God’s lines are never negotiable.  They are non-negotiable because they are there for my good!  I can’t always see it – just like my boys couldn’t always see the dangers of traffic – but God’s boundaries always protect me.  I am learning not to challenge the lines of God, but it is happening slowly.  I am learning how to walk by faith; but that is proving difficult as well because I want God to show me how things work out and how his boundaries are protecting me.  However, God never promised me full disclosure; he did promise me that if I trusted completely in him that he would direct my paths.  I am reminded of another proverb of Solomon, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  When I neglect the boundaries of God there is always a negative consequence.  I may not understand what God is doing; I may be frustrated with his lines; I may not see how his commands benefit me; but I must trust that God is much smarter than me – he knows things that I cannot know and he sees things that I cannot see.  The prophet Isaiah said, “The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”  When Satan whispers in your ear, “Did God really say…,” answer him quickly, “My God loves me and he will protect me even when I don’t know I need to be protected.”  The boundary lines of God may not always be convenient to our immediate happiness, but they are always there for our eternal good.