Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Boundaries: Good or Bad?

A baby stands in his crib shaking the rails, crying to be let out.
A child peers between two fence posts pouting, wanting to play on the other side.
A man looks over the guardrail of a bridge disheartened, desiring to swim in the current.
We see boundaries as limiting, restraining, holding us back. We pace the border like a caged animal wondering how to be set free. We are enthralled, obsessed even. We wonder what exciting adventure the boundary keeps us from experiencing. And occasionally we break out. In giddiness, we escape.
But what do we find on the other side? True freedom? It depends. Who built the barrier and why does it exist?
Some need torn down, but . . .
Some boundaries protect us. They keep us safe. The crib keeps the baby from falling. The fence keeps the child from running into the street. The guardrail allows the man to walk over the water safely. These boundaries protect.
Non-Christians see a Christian’s life as confining—a list of do’s and don’ts. And it’s true. God’s word establishes boundaries in our lives. The question becomes: Are those boundaries a chokehold or a place of freedom? Is “no” negative?
In this case, God’s word—the boundaries He establishes—protects, guards, shields. Safety is inside the fence, within the perimeter. Outside are distractions, temptations, strongholds and idols.
Freedom lies within the boundaries. When we leave the perimeter and move toward the interior we realize we have room to roam. And it’s good. Very good. That’s where God’s love and protection exist. That’s where the abundant life is found.
Jesus understood this truth. He used the word of God as a shield of protection against Satan’s attacks.
Do you see God’s boundaries on your eating as restricting or freeing? When you see His guidance as a means of protection and preservation, a loving act of kindness, you may say with the Psalmist,
35 Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.[c]
38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,
so that you may be feared.
39 Take away the disgrace I dread,
for your laws are good.
40 How I long for your precepts!
In your righteousness preserve my life. (Psalm 119:35-40)