Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Freedom Fence

When my older kids were little and we lived in town, our home was situated just one house away from a busy street. On beautiful spring and summer days and sometimes even on wintry ones, Luke and Tess would beg me (Shay couldn't talk yet) to let them go outside to play. I loved to have them play in the backyard, but I also had to accomplish things inside the house. And since I didn't trust their preschool judgments regarding traffic, I rarely let them play outside unattended. Therefore, there was always the dilemma of them wanting to be outside longer then I wanted to watch them.

I knew a fence--a chain link fence with a childproof gate--would solve my problem. I also knew this solution would be a costly one. So, after one particularly pleasant evening, as Brent and I watched the children playing happily in the backyard, I broached the subject of "The Fence". Knowing that Brent made decisions according to logic, I laid out my proposal in a very systematic, non-emotional manner. And to my surprise, after some discussion about cost and sacrifice, my proposal was accepted! I was thrilled!

My friend, "The Fence", was installed within a matter of weeks (after getting approval from the neighbors on either side and behind us). It was beautiful and shiny and it wrapped around my entire long backyard. It made me smile just to look at it.

Now, on any day--sunny, rainy, windy, cold--Luke and Tess, and sometimes one year old Shay, could wander out to the screened porch, shimmy through the punched out screen in the bottom of the door, and make their way--unattended!--into the wide world of backyard wonder!

I didn't have to watch them every single minute! They had limits to their freedom and they were safe--maybe not from each other--but at least from the road. When they stayed within the confines of "The Fence", they were happy, I was happy, and no one had to fear danger or punishment. What a wonderful barrier!

Instead of curtailing their childish curiosity, "The Fence" actually gave them more freedom to do what they wanted...where they wanted...when they wanted---just as long as they stayed within in it's bounds. The boundary of "The Fence" let them know exactly how far they could go in their explorations before they got in trouble. The boundary of "The Fence" gave them (and me) a sense of security and protection. The boundary of "The Fence" let them know that everything within it's borders was "good" and OK for them. The boundary became their blessing because it fully explained their freedoms and kept them from dangerous situations. They never thought of the fence as bad or restrictive because they so enjoyed their increased freedom within it.

Isn't that what God does for us? He lays out the rules for us in the Bible. He tells us how far is too far. He show us how to curtail our anger or our passion or our appetites with His Power and His Word before they get us into trouble. He shows us how to stay within His Will and under His Authority. He tells us if we "go it on our own" the devil can "run us down" with his schemes.

God gives us boundaries because He loves us. He gives us boundaries so we can run free without getting hurt. And He gives us boundaries because He can bless us within them. Within His boundaries we can enjoy security and safety.

Without these "fences", we act like foolish preschoolers and we run into the road of self destruction. We go too far because we don't know how far we can go.

These boundaries are set in place by love and sacrifice. It cost God His Son to give us His Spirit. Now that's an expensive fence!

So...next time the Word convicts you or you get a check in your spirit that says, "Don't go there", stop. Step back in. And give thanks for the "Fence" of Freedom.

"When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slave to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."

Romans 6:20-22

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