Monday, May 4, 2009

When my sons were younger, we had a beautiful golden retriever that had the run of our fenced in back yard. Scout seemed to live with constant temptation. He found interesting ways to leave the boundaries of the fence. He would find a spot to dig and crawl under it and run lose violating the rules of the neighborhood and risking getting hit by a car. We even installed an invisible fence, but Scout just dug deeper and managed an escape anyway. Each time he’d break free, we’d chase him around the neighborhood and literally drag him back to the safe confines of the back yard. Scout had trouble staying in his yard. Scout had trouble with boundaries.

I am leading two groups right now through a study of Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. The book is generating some thought-provoking discussions about living in boundaries. The authors tell us boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. It seems we all have some issue when it comes to living in boundaries with friends, family, co-workers, God, or ourselves. It is reassuring to know that the concept of boundaries actually comes from God. Through his Word, God defines himself and tells us his expectations for living in relationship with him and others.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Cloud and Townsend remind us that God sets the boundaries of his “yard.” We know what he permits in the “yard.” He tells us what he allows and doesn’t allow, what he likes and doesn’t like. He opens the gate and invites us into his house and shares his unending love with us. At the same time, God guards his house and doesn’t allow evil inside it. When we sin, he confronts us and allows us to suffer the consequences. When we move beyond his limits, the gates of his boundaries close and we lose fellowship with him. Then when we face our sins and ask forgiveness, the gates open once again and we are restored to fellowship with him.

We were created in God’s own image. God wants us to develop our own boundaries so that we can live in peace and fellowship with him and with others. Boundaries are our property lines in all areas of our life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Setting boundaries brings health to our relationships. When we have mature boundaries, we can move steadily and peacefully in our faith walk.

What do you allow in your “yard?”
Are you like Scout and move beyond the boundaries of God’s yard?
Let’s follow God’s boundaries and then develop boundaries like his.
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