It’s interesting to watch my dog when he’s outside. If there are cats, squirrels or rabbits in the woods behind our home, I watch him anxiously pace the boundary line set for him. I can almost see the little cartoon caption box floating above his head – “Should I go or should I stay?”
Shortly after moving into our home in NC we considered a physical fence in order to keep our dog in the yard. We gathered a few estimates and looked at different options. As we looked at configurations and different materials the cost was shocking. We really wanted our dog to be safe but also have the same access to the yard we had. In other words, we wanted him to be where we were.
After exploring different ideas, we finally decided on an “invisible” electronic fence. Maybe not the least expensive option, but it basically allowed our dog full access to the yard and didn’t intrude on the appearance of the property or our neighbors. Of course, the down side – when our dog wanted to violate the perimeter he would first get a tone and then, if he ignored the tone, he would get a little shot-in-the-shorts. Nothing severe, we had it turned down to its lowest setting, but enough to get his attention. For all intents and purposes, it only took one little jolt for him to get the message and set the boundary in his mind. The fence has been in for almost six years now and he’s only violated the perimeter one time with his collar on. But I still see that look when he roams the boundary.
For me, the Bible is God’s invisible fence. In Psalm 119:11 the psalmist says, Your word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against you. Basically the psalmist is acknowledging that God’s word sets the boundaries for his thoughts and actions. It’s in knowing, understanding and applying God’s word that he developed a sense of security and became aware of proper parameters. It is no different for me. It is through the teachings of scripture that I understand the constraints for the way God wants me to conduct my life. Not just what I should believe, but how I should live.
Coming to terms with God’s invisible fence allows me to come to terms with right living. When acts, thoughts, or intentions of the heart violate my commitment to God and his word, it is that very word, which I have hidden in my heart, that sets off a tone. That tone let’s me know if I go any further it’s not going to be pleasant. I may get passed the perimeter, but the shot-in-the-shorts, that is, the guilt, stress, anguish, and restlessness will pester me and rob me of joy until I finally confess and turn back.
I’m not certain it’s a right conclusion, but maybe that’s why a good many Christians don’t spend a lot of time in the Scriptures. It’s better for them not to have that little tone going off when they push the barrier. Maybe they prefer not to deal with the shot-in-the-shorts and the attending consequences. Maybe they think God is being unfair by setting limits. Maybe they think it’s better if they are not aware of biblical boundaries at all.
Frankly, I like boundaries. I get a certain comfort knowing where the line in the sand is. I’m not otherwise unrestrained, I simply get a sense of security knowing what the limits are. I understand that God’s intention is nothing but the best for me. It’s not always easy, but it is the best. I don’t always decipher that correctly but I know its true.
God sets boundaries like any good parent does for their children. He does it out of love. Knowing those boundaries and respecting them is a good thing. That doesn’t mean I will always be at peace, always experience joy, or never go through hard times. It simply means keeping the boundaries is the right thing to do.