July 12, 2004
Encouragement for Today
As Fences Fade
Sharon Jaynes, Vice President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, author, speaker
Hebrews 8:10 I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (NIV)
I used to walk around the neighborhood and see signs that read, "Dog contained by invisible fence." Actually, I thought it was a joke. But after we got a dog, I learned about this incredible invention, and decided to have one installed.
The fence company dug a narrow four foot deep trench around the perimeter of our yard and buried a small wire. This wire was attached to a control box mounted on our garage wall. Ginger, our golden retriever, was then fitted with a collar sporting a special little box with two small prongs that rested against her skin. The dog trainer then placed white flags all around the yard, marking where the underground fence was buried. As Ginger neared the flags, she heard a quiet warning sound clicking from the box. If she kept going and crossed over the boundary marked by the flag, she got a shock and came back.
Now before you get upset about Ginger getting a little shock, I have to tell you, I let them shock me first. It wasn't painful, but I did not want them to do it again. For twelve years, Ginger crossed over the invisible boundary only twice. Once when the fence wasn't working properly and once during her sixth week of motherhood to escape her seven nursing puppies.
If you ride by our house today, you don't see any white flags decorating the perimeter of our yard. So, you might wonder, how does Ginger know where the boundary is? It is simple. For the first week, white flags lined the boundary of our yard. On the second week, I removed every other flag. On the third week, I again removed every other remaining flag. And I continued removing flags, until eventually, they were gone. We don't see the flags, but Ginger remembers where the boundaries are. She also learned that the warning clicking sound was her friend and kept her from getting in a "shocking" situation.
I've realized that the flags are great picture of the boundaries we set for our children. When they're young, we mark out clear boundaries, and as the child matures into adolescence, we begin pulling up those flags, just a little at a time. As they graduate from high school and move into college, most of the flags marking the boundaries are gone, and we pray with all our might, that they remember where those boundaries are.
Just like when Ginger hears the warning sound when she move too close to danger, I believe that the Holy Spirit taps on our children's hearts, and warns them not to cross the boundaries set by their parents. Sometimes they will proceed and cross the boundary anyway. That's when the shock comes in. It might be in the form of discipline and it might be in the form of living with some very unpleasant consequences.
In the Old Testament, God wrote the Law or the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, but in the New Testament, He wrote the Law of Love on our hearts. Isn't that our prayer? Yes, we have to spell out the boundaries for our children and point them in the right direction. But as they head off to adulthood, we desire that the boundaries will be written on their hearts and they won't find themselves in shocking situations.
And what about for our own lives? Yes, God has set boundaries for us, just as we have set boundaries for our children. When we make a decision to cross those boundaries, we will also find ourselves in some shocking situations.
My Prayer for Today:
Dear Lord, thank you that you set up boundaries for us in Your Word. Just as we set up boundaries for our children for their own protection, you set up boundaries for us, Your children, for our protection. Lord, we pray for our children. We pray that they will not forget the boundaries from Your Word that we have laid out for them. We pray that as they leave the nest and fly off to places beyond the safe boundaries of home, they will remember the teachings they have heard. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit who is always with us to prompt us, convict us, warn us, and empower us to turn from situations that would take us from the safe boundaries You have marked out for us.
In Jesus' name, Amen
Write down some of the boundaries you have marked out for your children.
Write down some of the boundaries that God has marked out for you, His child.
How do you feel when your children walk beyond those boundaries?
How do you think God feels when you walk beyond His?
Are there some boundary markers in your children's lives or in your own life that need fresh coat of paint?
Do you want your children to see the boundaries you have set up as constraining or freeing?
Do you see the boundaries God has set up for you as constraining or freeing?
Think of a time that you stepped beyond God's safe boundary for you. What were the results? Do you still suffer the consequences for any of those wanderings?
Consider sharing such a time that you didn't listen to the warning signs but kept going beyond God's safe boundary in your life. Perhaps your children could benefit from such a story.
A few boundaries to consider:
Be careful what you see. "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! "(Matthew 6:22, 23 NIV)
Be careful what you love: "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. "(Mathew 6:24 NIV)
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 5:23 NIV)
Be careful who you listen to. My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body." (Proverbs 5:20-22 NIV)
Be careful what you say. "Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips." (Proverbs 5:24 NIV)
Be careful where you go. "Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil." (Proverbs 5:26, 27 NIV)
Be careful who you choose to be close friends. Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God--I say this to your shame." (1 Corinthians 15:33, 34 NIV)
This devotion was taken from A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst.
A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst
Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids by Sharon Jaynes
Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
Originally published Monday, 12 July 2004.