The Fence

When my two oldest girls were small, we lived on the corner of a fairly busy street and they always wanted to go outside to play.

If they played out in the front yard, Jana and I would never let them out of our sight.  But sometimes, when they were in the back yard, we would leave them to play by themselves for a few minutes. 

So what was the difference?  The fence.

The fence determined how we parented. The fence around our back yard allowed my children room to play, run and explore. The fence gave the children freedom.  At their age, they didn’t realize they had freedom, but it was theirs.

In the same way, God wanted His children, the Israelites, to have freedom so He gave them commands. Too often I think we look at commands and laws that God gives as restricting, as “freedom taking.”  But in reality, the commands are one of the most loving things He could do for us.

It’s kind of like driving the speed limit.  I confess to you that there have been times that I have exceeded the speed limit (broke the law).  When I know I am driving too fast, my drive is filled with constant worry.  But recently I made a long drive and set the cruise exactly on the legal speed limit.  And when I was passed by several highway patrolmen, I had no anxiety.  It was a completely different way to drive.

I’ll admit I like looking outside the fence.  It is clear the Israelites got “outside the fence” a lot.  Their story is one of God constantly drawing them back within the fence of where HE is.

There will always be this “lure” that beyond the fence is “better;” that there is “freedom” beyond the fence, but the freedom is within the boundary.

If we begin to think that God’s back yard is too small, we should probably look again.