Encouragement for Today - October 21, 2011


Marybeth Whalen

October 21, 2011

Testing Fences
Marybeth Whalen

"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Psalm 16:6 (NIV)

Each morning when I let my dog out he does a lap around the perimeter of our yard and then comes back to ram his body against the gate, just to see if he can get out of the confinement we've put him in. He looks over at me as he does it, as if to say, "Just checking." The other morning I was laughing about what a silly dog he is. Then it occurred to me that I am not that different from him when it comes to the fences in my life.

Like my dog, I have a Master who has constructed boundaries to keep me safe. But I don't always like those boundaries. I don't understand why they have to be there. Why can't I just be free to roam where I please, call my own shots, make my own decisions? Why must there be fences to hem me in?

Like my dog, I am quick to forget that those fences are there for my protection. And so I go around kicking them, testing them, pushing against them instead of accepting them. Instead of trusting, I just feel trapped.

As I look back over my life, I can see many fences I've tested. When God made me a mother, I questioned the position I'd landed in. Perhaps I'd be better off somewhere else, doing something else.

When God directed us to do whatever it took to get our finances under control, I longed for the days when I could run free with my credit card.

When marriage got really, really hard, I wondered if I was meant to be bound to this one man forever.

When God called me to homeschooling, I resisted being tied to my home and children, slow to realize that God placed me there to teach me things I could've never learned otherwise.

As I've surveyed the path of my purpose, I've found myself wondering if another path would be better—if I am truly where I am supposed to be.

It seems I have struggled with every boundary, pushing against every fence God has ever erected in my life. Instead of seeing the place He puts me as a reason for my safety, I dwell on how it inhibits me.

I can see how those boundaries kept me in a place where He could reach me. And when the time came, I saw the benefits of those boundaries. Through motherhood, I learned to be a servant. Through marriage I learned to forgive and accept forgiveness. Through paying off debt, I learned the blessings of financial freedom. Through homeschooling I learned to lay down my agenda for His. I am a better person—and I know God better—through the boundaries in my life.

Have you struggled with some boundaries of your own? Maybe today you're looking at the fences in your life and wanting to throw yourself against them instead of seeing them as pleasant places and trusting that within those confines waits your delightful inheritance. Maybe you've forgotten that your Master erected those perimeters for your good.

This morning a neighbor knocked at our door. My dog had pushed against the fence and this time it had given way. He had escaped and gone for a romp through our neighborhood, happy and free, oblivious to the cars that could have hit him, the dog catcher who would be only too happy to put him in the pound.

The neighbor brought him back to me and I put him in the fence, this time making sure the gate was securely latched. He still didn't understand the need for his fence. But I, his master, do. He just has to trust that I have erected the fence for his safety, and dwell in his pleasant place. Just like me.

Dear Lord, help me to stop pushing against the boundaries You've erected in my life. Help me to instead see those perimeters as existing for my protection and my good. Let me see where You have me as a pleasant place, no matter where that might be. I want to stop testing the fences and dwell in Your safe pasture, trusting and content. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Marybeth's blog

Becoming a Woman of Influence (CD) by Marybeth Whalen

From Financially Frantic to Financially Free (CD) by Marybeth Whalen

She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen is a novel for every woman who has looked at another woman's life and said, "I want what she has," She Makes It Look Easy reminds us of the danger of pedestals and the beauty of authentic friendship, and to rejoice in the fences God sets up for us.

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Application Steps:
As you are going about your day today, notice the fences you pass. When you pass them, thank God for the boundaries He has placed in your life.

What is a boundary in my life that I need to see as a pleasant place?

Power Verses:
Psalm 147:14, "He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat." (NIV)

Psalm 139:5, "You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Originally published Friday, 21 October 2011.