..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Blessed Boundaries of God

Today as I was out walking the dog, I found myself standing on the place where "my boundary" was. I grew up in a somewhat idyllic small New England farming town in a time when things were not quite so dangerous. I remember my first bike, it was red, and had a bell and speedometer and lots of stickers on it. I was six. I was able to ride the bike about 1/3 of a mile to where my parents had designated a boundary (the red tobacco barn). It was there that I was to go no farther by myself. So happily I would ride to that point, turn around and ride back, and if I still had energy, I could keep making that route over and over. Ironically, that red barn sometimes still appears in my dreams, always as a happy idyllic place. I had no sense of being held back, no feeling that I wanted to go past the boundary. All was right with the world: the boundary was just there.

I am thinking, today, about the boundaries that God sets for our lives, and how we view them. Do they seem as a horrible cage, or a liberating parameter that keeps me where I am created to be? As we grow into adulthood there are usually many times that we "test our boundaries" which usually means lots of excess and throwing caution to the wind, to put it nicely. It often means deliberately disobeying concepts that may have been set down for our best interest. Of course, when we are younger, our ability to discern what might be "in our best interest" might need some work.

God is not an anarchist. He took a world that was without form and void and created it to be a place of order and beauty beyond compare. He created a place for each creature, including you and me. He did this out of love, and proclaimed it to be good. The birds of the air were ok with it. The fish of the sea were ok with it. The animals of the field were ok with it. But not us. Lured into thinking there was more to be gotten over the next green hill, we soon turned our back on the One who had set us in the greenest of pastures made specifically for us. And so to this day it is often just more of the same. We all know that story.

What I want to say is that as we return to God, our Father, that this story has a different slant and a different ending: a happy one. As we belong to God and come to know Him, we WANT to stay closer and closer to Him and not run away. We want His protective boundary around our lives. We want Him to say, "thus far, and no farther." Within His boundaries for us we find our true selves and our true vocation. His boundaries give us our allotted share of the work of our Father to do, it is our garden to plant and water. It is in owning and observing the boundaries that God gives us that, as C.S. Lewis says, "our face" before God emerges.

God has a perfect environment for me to grow in. In that place, His burden is light. It is neither too much nor too little. Its blessings show me the goodness of God, its appointed trials and lessons form His character in me. It is "my" place. It is where God meets me and perfects me.

If we think of God's boundaries as anything but the good and loving choices of a Father who loves us beyond our wildest imagination, then perhaps it is not the boundaries that bother us so much as our concept of who God is. So many of our earthly fathers have not reflected the nature of our Heavenly father. Sometimes things get broken. And yet "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us "(Romans 5:5). In knowing that love, all the mistakes that have been made to us and by us fall into the ocean of His grace and forgiveness. Draw near to Him. Climb up onto His lap and ask, "Lord, do I love your boundaries in my life? Do I trust you completely as my Father?" The outpouring of love you will, no doubt, experience in return should answer all your doubts. Our God is an awesome God.

"When the Most High gave the nations their nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples...." Deut. 32:8

"And his banner over me is love."--Song of Solomon 2:4


lizentwoya said...

I just found your blog site. Thank you for the inspirational offerings. I will be back for sure. Lizentwoya

auntbobra said...

The Parable of The Red Barn.
This is truly a great use of storytelling. The Barn as Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil.
The Lust for Knowledge, not Love or Wisdom, even. The Greed for MORE. Getting so used to masks that a face, even the Face of God is not enough. What's on the Otherside? Around the corner? Beyond the Barn? Everything.
Nothing. There is no Otherside.
Just I Am Who I Am.

Rich Tatum said...

Nice post, great imagery, good thoughts. True creativity only comes with boundaries, that's why so many authors stuggle with "writer's block" when staring at a blank page. When you can move in any direction for any distance it's really hard to know where to start. But put a boundary down and suddenly you have a space you can explore, and grow in, and learn to love.

Good stuff there.