Mending Fences

I pass by this fence every day during my morning commute. Poor thing! I think it needs some help! Due to neglect over time, it no longer serves any kind of purpose that I can see, other than providing a photographic opportunity. I wonder about its initial reason for being there.

What functions might any fence have? Might we have some invisible fences in our lives that need mending?  Here are a few thoughts on what a fence might be used for.

Marking Boundaries

Some people may put a fence around their yard to keep others from traipsing through and using it as a shortcut. Others might put a fence between their yard and next door to keep the neighbor’s adorable munchkins from riding their bikes over the grass. These fences communicate the territory held and tell others, “Inside this fence is all mine!”

Have you heard the idiom “mending fences?” It means to become friendly again after a disagreement. Another proverb states, “Good fences make good neighbors.” We all need boundaries in our relationships, and if those boundaries are not communicated clearly, we can end up feeling disrespected. We can’t always assume that others were brought up with the same expectations we were. What about dropping by someone’s house unexpectedly and making yourself at home…right before dinner? A more frequent one in this day and age is tending to text messages and social media in the middle of a face-to-face conversation. The boundaries of manners and common courtesy are becoming increasingly blurred.

Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a few fences that apply to many areas of life: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Allowing the Holy Spirit to grow these fruits in our lives not only helps us to respect the boundaries of others, it helps keep us from over reacting (either inwardly or outwardly) when others don’t respect our own. The next time you start getting worked up over someone’s treatment of you, check which fruit might apply to your situation. Ask your Heavenly Father for help! He wants you to grow to be increasingly more like Him.

Protection from Without

We have a chicken-wire fence around our little vegetable garden to protect it from the rabbits. That little fence would do nothing to provide protection from mountain lions, which can easily jump over a ten-foot fence! Thankfully mountain lions don’t live around here, and are not interested in lettuce, green beans, or tomatoes.

The kind of danger outside determines the type of fence necessary for protection. What dangers is your heart facing right now? What type of fence can you build for protection? The book of Psalms is full of examples of David crying out to God for protection. He cried out of God many times, but He always came around to trust in the goodness of God regardless of what he was facing in the moment. Look beyond your circumstances to the Author and Perfecter of your faith.

Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Not many of us can say we are facing a literal cross right now, but as believers we can all say that we have complete and utter joy waiting for us! Lift up your eyes, and keep them there!

Containment

Now think cattle, horses, llamas, donkeys, sheep, goats, and any other type of livestock that I’ve forgotten. They would all wander away if it weren’t for some sort of fence to contain them at the outer limits of their territory, even if that “fence” is a sheepdog!

The Bible often compares us to sheep. How do you feel about that?!? We are prone to wander away from God and who He wants us to be. The grass really does seem greener “over there,” and off we go! David talks about a fence we can use in Psalm 119:9-10: “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. I have tried hard to find you-don’t let me wander from your commands.” God’s Word provides us with a fence to keep us from straying. Of course if we’re stubborn enough we’ll jump over it, dig under it, or just plain knock it down to go out on our own, but true freedom is only found within it. “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments” (Psalm 119:45).

Appearance

Here I’m thinking of lovely white picket fences around pretty, well-groomed yards. I suppose they would keep out the neighbor dogs, but what other purpose do they have besides being pretty? Perhaps you know, and can enlighten me!

Yes, it’s true that “the Lord looks at the heart,” but “people judge by outward appearance” (1 Samuel 16:7). If you want to influence people one way or another, your appearance does matter whether you want to spend the day in your sweats or not. Your message is affected by how you present yourself. Not enough effort says you don’t really care, and too much effort says you’re not authentic. Be yourself, but take care of yourself!

Privacy

People with privacy fences only make me wonder what they need a privacy fence for. I wasn’t in the least bit curious about them before they built the fence, but that fence sure makes me want to peer into their lives now!

There is no privacy fence high enough to hide our hearts from God. How do you feel about that? It can be rather freeing to know that you don’t have to hide anything from Him, simply because He knows it all already! “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me…You know my thoughts even when I’m far away…You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord” (Psalm 139:1, 2, 4). He sees the good, the bad, and the ugly, and still He loves you more deeply than you can imagine.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God (Ephesians 3:18-19).

Check your Fences

Ranch hands constantly have to check fences to make sure cattle don’t escape and predators don’t enter. The fences of our lives also need continual attention. How are your fences holding up? Do any need to be repaired or reinforced?

 

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