The Beauty of Boundaries

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imageImage © by niallkennedy | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

There’s nothing like getting dragged out of bed at 7am in the morning to run barefoot through the yard chasing two rambunctious puppies. Just ask my nine-year-old son. That’s what he had to do today. By the time he got them back in the pen, his feet were wet from the dew, and he was shaking from the cold. But the puppies were safe.

For a while, we contemplated how the gate had been opened. Before we concluded that they must have simply forced it open, we wondered if someone had perhaps let them out. Maybe they had barked too much, or perhaps someone felt sorry for them because they had run out of food and water.

It is somewhat pitiful to see them locked up. Even though the pen is a nice size, they had gotten used to running all over our 5-acre lot and then some. It’s the “then some” that got them in trouble. They kept getting into our flowerbeds and getting into other neighbor’s yards. They were coming in the cat door to the garage and stealing shoes. We continued to find items in our yard that clearly weren’t ours. They were digging in the neighbor’s garden and even running into the road. Years ago, a farmer shot one of our dogs because he was chasing cows. Another dog ran into the street and was hit and killed by a car. As sad as it is to keep our puppies confined, it would be much sadder for them to be hurt by their own recklessness. For their own good, they need boundaries.

Boundaries, limits, borders, restrictions, they are important . . . for puppies and for us too. Some people think of the Bible and Christianity as a set of rules, a list of “dos” and “don’ts” that somehow stifle a person’s freedom. But that’s not how God intends it to be. Christianity isn’t about rules. It’s about a relationship, a relationship with God’s son, Jesus Christ. And the Bible? Well, the Bible is kind of like our security fence. In it, God has given us certain directions for life. He outlines harmful behaviors and beneficial behaviors. He tells us what actions will get us in trouble and what actions will lead to blessings. He defines our boundaries.

However, unlike the puppies, we are not penned. We have the choice of whether or not to stay within our boundaries. We don’t even have to force open a gate. God, through the Bible, has set the limits for us, but the choice to obey or disobey is ours. Of course, since God is always right, if we choose to live over the edge, there will be consequences. Just like the puppies could get in trouble or could get hurt, so could we.

The Bible says in Proverbs 30:5 “All God’s words are tried and true; a shield for those who take refuge in him.” God’s word is here to protect us, just like the pen is there to protect our puppies. God is not trying to “spoil our fun.” He’s trying to keep us safe from the evil of this world. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.

We read in 2 Timothy 3:16, “Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.”

The next time you begin to think about the Bible as a list of rules just waiting to be broken, remember God loves you, and then think about my puppies. We give them boundaries because we love them. Without boundaries they are sure to get in trouble, and, you know what? So are we.

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