HE’S BEHIND THE WHEEL

Written by: Christianne Williams

Something that has terrified me since the moment I became a parent happened last week.  My  eldest son wrote and passed the learners test.  Yes,  I now have a student driver.  I’m actually getting off easily  because in the province in which we reside the age to get your learners is fourteen so I could have two and the Lord knows I’m not ready  for that.

About an hour after I received the text from him that he was now legal, and also requesting his first driving lesson, he arrived at my place of employment with his father.  He was wearing his aviator sunglasses, hat turned backwards, jingling the keys, and let’s not forget the huge smile.  My husband was pale faced and I tried to see past his wide eyes and gritted teeth as he said our son was a ‘decent’ driver.

Our first born was overjoyed at his newfound independence, even if it meant his parents were tagging along everywhere he wanted to drive for the next twelve months.  It was also the first time I didn’t hear how uncool our minivan was.  It’s amazing how those things become insignificant when it’s the only mode of transportation that will get you from your learners to your official license.

I’m not sure how it happened but I became the one who was volun-told to accompany this new licensed youth on most trips, and honestly I’m happy about that.  It’s the best we’ve gotten along ever!  It’s great!  I sit in the passenger seat, prattling on about how soon he should stop at stop signs, how he should always remember shoulder checks, and who can forget, “Watch your speed!”  One night last week, instead of turning toward home he turned toward the highway.  I asked him what he was doing and he basically told me he was tired of doing 50km/h and felt he should tackle the highway.

I’m not gonna lie, I was a bit panic stricken at the thought and tried to no avail to get him to reconsider.  Before I knew it we were hurtling down the highway toward Edmonton doing 110km/h.  I honestly had no clue that our van was capable of reaching that speed in so little time.  I held on to my door handle, and smiled, my teeth gritted.  I resisted the urge to grab hold of the wheel to help him out.  The whole experience didn’t last long, he signalled onto the range road that brought us back into town and I looked over at him, proud as I could be.

I realized just how proud I was of him.  He is a confident, and capable young man, and a really good driver I might add!

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, sometimes life feels like we’re hurtling down the highway, going well over the speed limit, no exit in sight.  It feels like our life is in the hands of a new driver, someone who can’t be trusted to read the signs and make the turns.  It seems like things are just out of control, like we’re not even on the right road and there isn’t any where to turn it around.  We dig our nails into the door and smile with gritted teeth, all the while in our head we’re wondering, ‘God where are you in all of this?’

Though we tend to make the primary characters in the biblical story, I am oft compelled to wonder if they ever asked the same question? Abraham while waiting for his promised son? Joseph while in a hole in the ground for two years? Moses while a fugitive on the backside of the desert? The disciples while fighting for the lives in a storm on the sea? Paul when he was beaten and left for dead by his own countrymen? Could it be possible when faced with such “out of control” circumstances, they too wondered? Of course, we have the advantage as Paul Harvey would say, to know the “rest of the story”!

 

The beautiful thing is, He is the one behind the wheel.  Isaiah reminds us that, “The Lord of hosts has sworn: ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand” and Psalm 118:6 reminds us that, “The Lord is on my side…” Knowing this, the best thing for us to do is not grab hold of the wheel, but give him complete control, allow him to take you down the road, following the right route and making the appropriate turns.  So, relax and enjoy the scenery, chat with Him about the journey, listen to the songs He sings over us, anything but take control.

CHOOSING PEACE

Written by: Christianne Williams

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” John 14:25

I have probably read it a thousand times but never before did I notice, and really get the meaning, do not let. What struck me is that we have a choice to make.  It means that we can decide whether or not we want to be full of peace or to live in fear.

In a movie I watched with my children, they recounted an old proverb about two wolves warring inside of us.  In the proverb, one wolf is good and the other wolf is evil.  Which one wins?  The one you feed. It occurred to me, the same is true with peace and unrest, which one will win?  The one that you’re feeding.  Always.

The Bible tells us “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) We can choose the way we walk through life by choosing to think on the right things.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are circumstances in life that can completely overwhelm and frighten us, I’ve been through a few.  But I can also say, that looking back, it was the thought processes I was going through that “fed the wolf”.

Q: How then do we feed the right wolf?

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6­-7

A: By being in constant communication with the One who grants true peace!

We are to praise Him and thank Him knowing that He’s working on our behalf in a realm we can’t see with our eyes, but He can give us assurance in our hearts.  That’s the feeling of peace that surpasses all understanding.  I’ve known that in some pretty real times.  I remember one night just after my daughter’s first open heart surgery, when she was still very sick. A serious ‘code’ was called for the unit she was in, I was in our room trying to get some sleep, and when I heard that my heart was filled with fear.  I thought for sure that she was the reason for the call, as she had been the previous night, and that we were once again facing the loss of our five- day old baby girl.  I laid down on the bed, completely distraught, and prayed.  I told the Lord my deepest fears, emptied myself of the terror I was feeling, and He replaced it with a beautiful peace, one that I could not have manufactured on my own.  It was a divine exchange.

“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

His very desire is to give you peace in rest, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, if you make the choice to let Him work.

HAPPY WITH WHAT WE HAVE

Written by: Christianne Williams

Philippians 4:11-13 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

Everyone loves a bargain.  Whether it be clothes, books, or household items, it makes me feel like I’m doing something good.  I recently scored a pair of almost new, brand name sneakers for my daughter, and they made her so happy she abandoned her want for an expensive pair at a shoe store.  Given my love for a deal, I was over the moon when I was hired at a local second hand store.

Putting out new items, seeing people get excited over the things they are finding, makes me happy.  I also get excited about some things that are donated, really it’s tough not to when something matches the color scheme in your kitchen or would fit you perfectly.  The catch is, I can’t shop while I’m working, and there’s only one day that the store is open that I’m not working.  My day off is at the end of the week so usually by the time I have a chance to purchase anything, the things I like are gone.

This last week I was really excited about something that came in, not for me but for my husband and as it was still there late in the day on my last shift I was planning how to be back at opening the next day to buy it.  Well as it happened, shortly before closing, it went home with someone else.  I was deflated.  I began to complain to God, have you ever been there?  When you start to tell him how unfair it is, how much you’re hurt, how utterly let down you feel.  As I stood there, reminding me very much of my seven or ten year old complaining about how the other was being treated far better, it occurred to me.  I didn’t need any of the things my eyes had spied, I could live very well without each and every one.  I also realized that the money I was saving by not buying things I don’t expressly need could go toward a more robust grocery budget.  And groceries are needed regularly  with a family of six, half being growing boys.

I know that thought came from the Father because it surely didn’t come from own mind that was quite bent on self pity.  It made me stop and think, how many times have I allowed my quest for more come before being content with what I already have?  And being discontent leads us into all kinds of trouble, financially, relationally, and spiritually.

When Paul writes to the Philippians and tells them that he’s learned to be content in all things, he knew what it was like to have plenty or be in need. It’s because he’s learned to trust that God knows his needs and will meet them, even if it means he waits a bit longer than he’s expecting.  In fact, Paul continues on in 4:14 to 20, that it was through the generosity of the believers at Philippi who became aware of his “troubles” that God, through them, met his needs.  But regardless of his circumstances, Paul could “do all things”, including being content. When we can stop looking at what we could gain that would make us happier, and it ultimately won’t, and start being happy with what we have, we’ll be less stressed in all areas of our lives.  In fact, Paul tells us that we are not to worry about any situation, but when we pray and are thankful, God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds. Maturing in our faith means allowing ‘things’ we think we need to slip through our hands so that God can put the things into our hands we actually need!

KEEP BELIEVING

Written by: Christianne Williams

Being injured is no fun.  Having one occur when you’re a teenager, a knee injury to be exact, having surgery on it only to be left with chronic pain on and off for the rest of your days is frustrating.  I’ve lived with recurring incidents for the last 24 years and honestly while I was in school it wasn’t that bad because I didn’t have to stand for long periods but after graduation my first job, and every one since then, has required me to stand, usually on cement floors, for up to eight hours a day.  There are breaks but the majority of the time is on your feet.

As you get older you sometimes get bigger too, if you get my drift, so the last year has  been no good for my situation.  I had a particularly bad flare up that lasted a couple of months and would cause me to lose sleep.  I would have a throbbing pain that was constant but at certain times, usually while I slept, the pain would become stabbing,  which would wake me up, and in the end leave me exhausted by the next day.  In an attempt to feel rested I would take something for the pain but the outcome of that was counter productive.  It took the pain away somewhat but left me feeling sleepy because I can’t handle drugs, and they also bothered my stomach.  So, I was left feeling sore, tired, and overwhelmed.

One day a few weeks ago, as I was on my way to work I was having a difficult time even standing, let alone walking around, and I was feeling pretty discouraged.  As I got out of our vehicle I told my husband how I was feeling, mentioned I didn’t know how I would make it through the entire day, and asked him to pray.  I didn’t think a whole lot more about it I just went through my day, putting one foot in front of the other.  It wasn’t until the end of the day that I realized what had happened.

When my husband picked me up he asked how my day had gone and how my knee was feeling.  I think he had been expecting a call to come get me early in the day.  I know this sounds odd, but until that moment I hadn’t thought at all about it.  The reason was because I couldn’t remember any pain after I’d walked through the door to go into work.  You would think that I would’ve immediately stopped and took note but I actually just moved through the day and was very productive too.

Since that time I’ve had zero pain in my knee!  I have no idea what made that day any more special than any other time I’ve asked God for healing but I know that He did it!  Just because we don’t see results the first time we pray, or the second, or third, or so on, doesn’t mean we should assume He isn’t willing, working, or hearing.   After all, “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  Keep believing that He’s on it, He’s acting, our job is to have faith in Him even when we don’t understand how He does it.

Be Still

Written by: Christianne Williams

Be still.  That can be tough.  When I think about being still, my children as toddlers always comes to my mind.  They would run about here and there from the time they got up in the morning until they laid their heads down at night.  One of my children in particular didn’t even really stop through the night.  There were constant trips to bathroom and pleas for water, hugs, and rescuing blankies that had suddenly vanished.  Taking them to places where being still was appreciated always made me anxious, because without fail they call upon some hidden energy store and need to be busier than normal.

I remember one time in particular one of my boys was being really loud and fidgety while a missionary was giving a presentation.  I got so tired of ‘shhhh’ing and trying to keep him still that I decided to take him to the nursery.  On our way he out, he asked very loudly, “Are you going to spank me?”  In this instance my son’s struggling got him where he wanted to be, in a place he could be free, not bound to sitting and coloring.  In life, though, struggling never helps us to achieve what God has for us, it simply wears us down.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is getting closer to God and resting in His plan, asking Him for wisdom, and believing He’s going to work things for my good even if I don’t see evidence of it with my natural eyes.  It means being aware of how you’re viewing the situation around you, how you’re dealing with it, the action you’re taking.  Sometimes we feel like reacting instead of praying for wisdom and waiting until we get revelation on how to proceed.  Sometimes we try so hard in our own strength to change the way things are, the situation we find ourselves in, when what really brings peace is to say, “Ok God, what are you going to do here?”

I’ve had days when it really feels like everything is set up against me, like there’s no way good can happen, and I have to find a way to still my mind before the Lord and ask Him to bring me peace while He works things out.  Getting alone with Him and asking for a new perspective, for revelation about what you’re facing, that’s where we find perfect peace.  It doesn’t mean that the storm will pass right away, it may rage for awhile, but it brings an awareness of His nearness and the truth that He goes along beside us.

The more time you make to be still before Him, the easier it will become to trust Him to work things out for your good, regardless of the process He takes you through.  I’ve been in situations that make no sense, and quite honestly struggling through, trying to come up with a solution or a plan of some sort, has never worked.  What did work is realizing that my Father is good.  No matter how many people here turn against you, He never will.  No matter how many times we mess up with our reactions, He will always be faithful to help us back up.

I read something on social media the other day that I really like, and it sums up a new mindset I’ve tried to adopt.  “Instead of saying ‘Lord I don’t know how I am going to do this’, say ‘Lord, I can’t wait to see how You do this’”.  Be still. No struggling. Allow excitement to fill your heart over how He will work this out!

Embracing the Beautiful Valley

Written by: Christianne Williams

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 

Psalm 23:1-3

Our family recently loaded up the mini van and headed on a road trip to another province for a conference.  We had been looking forward to it for quite some time and even though there was a series of unfortunate events, it didn’t really dampen our enthusiasm for long.  We needed this family time.  With two boys rocketing  toward adulthood, we want to make the most of every opportunity to have fun together and make memories.

Speaking of memories, mine is very short.  I had forgotten the very long, very frustrating road trip from last year, the one in which we packed up the van and drove toward a new life.  We drove for over 50 hours actually, and no more than eight hours per day, and at least seven and a half of those hours each day were filled with complaints.  “I’m too hot!”  “I’m too cold”  “so-and-so is too close” “so-and-so didn’t brush their teeth!”  “I’m hungry!”  “I need the bathroom!”  And the ever popular, “How much longer do we have to stay in this van??!!”

That’s where my memory had betrayed me.  I didn’t really remember how bad it was until we were half an hour into our trip and the complaints began.  I tried to ignore it, I tried to answer it softly, I contemplated ear plugs, and I turned the music up.  Still they carried on.

With all the road blocks that appeared in the days leading up to the trip and all of the angst coming from the inside of the vehicle, I just felt that God was wanting to show me something this week.  Now there is an account in 1 Kings 19 when Elijah is crying out to God because all of the prophets have been killed and he’s left and being hunted.  The Lord tells him to go stand on the mountains because he is about to pass by Elijah.  While Elijah stood there, there was a wind strong enough to tear the mountains apart and shatter rocks, and earthquake, and then fire.  The Lord was not in any of those powerful things.  After the fire was a gentle whisper, and that was God speaking to him.

I have been guilty, as I was on this trip, of looking for the loud, big, in your face type of deal, not realizing that the very thing God wants you to hear, the very thing that will speak loudest to your spirit, is very small and gentle.

While the kids wailed on, and the day grew longer, and we were all getting tired of this 15 hour trip, my eyes were drawn to color in the valley below the highway.  It was stunning!  It was so green, so many different shades of green.  And the mountains rising majestically behind it, a sharp contrast to the valley below.  It really can’t be described, it has to be seen.  I felt in my spirit that God was showing me, in the splendor of his creation, what true rest and peace look like.

You see, we often spend our whole lives striving to live on the mountain peaks of success or triumph, but the fact is, there is not much growing up there!  There aren’t many trees on the high elevations.  It’s beautiful to look at from a distance and if you were up there you would have a beautiful view.  I’ll bet if you were standing up there though, at a high elevation, you’d be surrounded by rocks.  I was struck by how lush the valley was though, how much was in bloom and growing.  Even growing up the mountains to a certain point the vegetation was beautiful.

While we’re in the valley we don’t get to fully appreciate all the growth that’s taking place; and like the not so fragrant aroma of manure spread on the fields that we all “enjoyed” while in our van, it served as a reminder of how even the challenges we face in the valleys God uses to produce beautiful fruit in our lives. It’s more important who we are becoming than the height on which we stand.  Sometimes it feels we’re spending more time in the valley or ascending the mountain than standing on the peak, and we probably are.  Have you seen how small those peaks are in comparison to everything else?  But trust that from the heavenly view your life is producing a beautiful portrait, one that you’ll hang on your mansion wall someday and be in awe of!

He showed me that when he makes us lie in green pastures, refreshing our souls, it’s a beautiful place to be!

This Isn’t The Best For You

Written by: Christianne Williams

I found myself sitting in a chair, holding my baby girl while she sobbed.  She was crying so hard she couldn’t even tell me what was wrong.  She’s very easily  hurt so I wondered if someone had said something or done something that hurt her heart.  Whatever it was, I wasn’t going to find out until she had gotten all of the tears out.

Eventually the flood ended, and it all made sense.

The day before she and I had been wandering the mall while her brothers and dad watched a movie, and as we passed by a jewellery shop she made a bee line toward it. She pointed to a sign that showed ear piercing, and asked me to read it to her.  It pictured a little girl with cute little earrings and said that they were free with every piercing.  She decided that since she was almost 8, it was time.

Normally this wouldn’t be a big issue but my little girl is special.  As most know, because I’ve mentioned it many times, she was born with a serious heart defect that required three open heart surgeries.  Those  surgeries were what they refer to as palliative, they didn’t fix the problem, they just repaired what they could. It really is quite amazing what they’re able to do, and of course we know that God has worked many miracles in her life to bring her to where she is.  However, her cardiologist has always been of the opinion that we don’t want to take unnecessary risk for infection and therefore the ear piercing question has always been answered with a resounding, “no”.

She’s always taken that answer and been ok,  and this time she was satisfied with, “We’ll ask if anything has changed at your next appointment.”  This time was the same.  Until Sunday.  She noticed that day that her very best friend had her ears pierced, and that a younger friend had gotten hers done that week.  This is what led to the meltdown.  She was upset because she saw that other people were able to have something she so very badly wanted.

My heart broke.  I was sad for her.  I was also sad for me.  It’s hard to say no to things that mean so much to our kids.  It’s hard even when we know it’s for their own good.  We don’t like to see them hurting.  In this instance there was really nothing I could do or say, I simply could not agree to something that could put her health, and potentially her life at risk, even if it seemed like something very small.  And to her if seemed very unfair.

She begged, and pleaded, she wanted to have her little lobes adorned with tiny sparkly studs, and I held back tears as I told her we just couldn’t do it right now.  It was hard.  I knew the day was coming when this congenital condition would begin to separate her from seemingly normal girly things, but I guess I wasn’t fully prepared for how it would make me feel.

I got a peek at what God’s heart might feel like when we ask for something He knows just isn’t right for us.  I don’t know for sure but I imagined that when we pray and things don’t work out the way we hope, God is saying, ‘I know how badly this is hurting your heart right now, but I know this simply isn’t the best for you.  I know you think it is, but I see the end, and I know this can only lead to destructive outcomes so I have to say no.’

It taught me a lesson sitting there hugging my girl.  The times I thought God was silent, or saying no because I had done something to make Him angry, the times I thought He was withholding something good, He was really protecting me from what could have happened.  Psalm 84:11 says, ‘For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

If He says no, be assured it’s because He’s saving you from something that’s not good, not keeping you from something good.

Ask And It Will Be Given

Written by: Christianne Williams

Have you ever had something happen to you that makes angry and sad and not sure what to do?  Something that just seems bad with no way of any good coming from it?  I’m sure like me, there have been many of those times.  We had an episode a week ago.

My oldest is an avid BMX rider and has built his own custom bike using expensive parts that he’s paid for himself.  He’s done a really great job and he takes pride in it.  After he completed his, he bought one for his brother so they could ride together.  I was so happy for him, he went from loving video games by himself, inside, to being active for as much of the day as he could.

He always kept those bikes locked up in the garage but when we moved to a new rental we didn’t have access to the garage and I asked them to keep the bikes outside in the sunporch.  It was, in my mind, safe because their bedroom windows opened into that room I thought that if anyone were to try and steal them, the boys would hear.  My son was not convinced and asked over and over again to be allowed to keep them inside.  I wasn’t trying to be mean or say that his hard work wasn’t valued, there just wasn’t room in the house for them.

Last week I asked the boys to go out and tidy up the sunporch because the weather was warming up and I thought it would be a great place to sit on rainy days in the summer or on days there were lots of bugs. They hadn’t been outside long when one came in and said, “Mom, our bikes are gone.”  At first, I thought that he was joking, as if trying to get me to allow them to keep them inside, but I quickly realized that it was no joke.

I felt sick.  I felt panicked.  I felt responsible.  I felt angry.  I asked God why.  I asked Him why He was allowing something that meant so much to my kids, something they had worked so hard for, to be taken away.  I felt at that moment I should pray.  My oldest and my husband had called the RCMP and had gone to take pictures of the bikes to them so I asked the three kids who were home to join me.  I asked God to work this out for us, I asked that the bikes would be found in plain sight and that nothing would be destroyed on them.  I declared that God would bring back to them what the enemy had stolen, because they are God’s kids and looks out for us.

As we opened our eyes, I noticed my son coming up the driveway with his bike!!  Not one thing had been done to it and he had found it laying a block away on a front lawn.  I was so excited, one down, one to go!  They set out again to look for the second bike.  About half an hour later they arrived home with the other, again in an alley, not at all harmed!  I was so ecstatic, our prayers were answered and very quickly, both bikes being found in plain sight with damage done.

I felt like this was a difficult experience for the boys but it also showed them how God is concerned about them, even the things that we sometimes feel are insignificant.  He was showing them how He wants them to come to Him with their concerns, how He hears immediately, even though one bike was found earlier than the other, they didn’t give up looking for the second, and He did show them where to find them.

I thought about it a lot.  God hears, and He works on our behalf, not always on our time schedule, not always the way we would expect, but He does always answer.  Prayer is conversation with our Father, and it’s important.  It’s not an outdated concept, we’ve not come to some spiritual level where we no longer need this communion with Him.  His word says, ”ask and it will be given,  to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

He answered our prayer and He showed His compassion to our sons.  And the bikes are now kept safely inside.

Social Skills

Written by: Christianne Williams

I am an introvert.  I’ve always felt awkward and out of place in large groups of people.  I’ve heard it said the most lonely place on the planet is in the middle of a group when you’re an introvert, and I can relate. My early years I thoroughly enjoyed spending the entire weekend reading, alone in my room.  And when I reached my teenage years I was happier with a friend or two, any more than that and I struggled to fit in.  I have been know to turn bright red when someone looked at me and I had to answer a question.

If you’ve ever watched a movie that involved teenagers at a dance, that’s what my life has felt like.  While everyone else is dancing and laughing and having a good time, I was sitting by the wall.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  There are those of you reading this who have struggled to feel like you fit in, like you’re accepted, like you belong.  You feel like meeting new people is a recipe for anxiety where someone else looks at it as an exciting opportunity.  You’d rather spend the evening at home with family and a book and not out and about.

My husband is a pastor, and I’ve often said that God has a sense of humor.  Being a part of a pastors family has required us to move around, to attend social functions, and to do many other things that require social skills.  And yet, here I am.  Growth has been constant and second guessing myself and walking away feeling like I’ve said something wrong, even though I hadn’t, or that I should’ve said or done this or that, and not something else, has happened often.

I believe it all stems from feeling that you fall short in some way.  Everyone else is smarter, wittier, more interesting, maybe even fitter, has better skin, more fashionable, and many other insecurities that crop up.  It leaves you believing that you aren’t worthy.   I know, that sounds harsh, but isn’t that really the issue?  We sometimes don’t believe that we are deserving of relationships, of love, of being accepted for who we are.

In church a few weeks ago I was asking God about this.  I was inquiring of Him as to why I never feel like I fit in.  I still feel at times like the awkward teenager sitting by the wall at the dance, just waiting for it to be over.  He spoke to me about it.  You know what He said?  There are no wall flowers in His kingdom.  All who are His children are loved and accepted by Him, even when we feel alone in the world.  We are not alone by the wall, we are dancing with Him, enjoying the life He has prepared for us. Romans 8:17 says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” We are heirs, and that means royalty.

So while you may naturally be an introvert, you are surely not a wall flower.  You are not inadequate, you are a child of God.

EMBRACING FENCES AND GUARDRAILS

Written by: Christianne Williams

A few years ago, our family decided to adopt two beautiful dogs.  Our oldest boys were requesting a pet, and they were adamant that they could handle the responsibility.  Now, truth be told I’m a cat person.  They’re independent and social so you get the benefit of love from a furry friend but they can pretty much look after themselves.  No regulating food or walking necessary.  My husband, on the other hand, is a dog lover and so he sided with the boys saying it would be a good opportunity for the boys to learn responsibility and how others are dependent on our choices.

We brought the dogs home and the first few weeks were great.  The novelty of having them around ensured that they were brushed, fed, walked, cuddled, and cared for.  We made sure they felt the love.  But we began to notice that these furry kids had a wandering streak, one that compelled them to explore the far reaches of our community.  The problem with this was that they loved to go unleashed and seized every opportunity to escape our yard, leaving our children running through every neighbour’s yard trying to chase them down.

We decided that the only way to fix this problem was to put in an underground electric fence. We were certain that this would solve our problem, after all, one of our neighbors had one and his dog stayed within his boundaries. After the expense of buying the system and the labor to put it in the ground, we very quickly learned that the dogs were smarter than we thought.  One day, about a day after the fence was installed, one dog couldn’t get away from his wandering ways and so he decided to ‘jump’ it.  He started at one corner of our property and we could see right away what his intent was.  He began to run, and kept on going, right through the electric force, realizing that once he reached a certain point, he really was free.  The other dog was quick to follow, and so were the kids.

After a few years and many attempts to keep those dogs safe in our yard, we made the difficult decision to send the dogs to live on a farm.  We didn’t want them to be tied to a tree in the back yard, unable to explore and be free.  They had lots of space to run, and although we missed them greatly, they were safe.  We had done everything we could do to make them feel loved, safe, and cared for but still they chose to run outside the boundaries.  When they went outside, they were putting themselves at risk and our boys at risk, the boundaries were there to keep them safe.

As our children grow we similarly have rules in place that allow them to grow and become responsible while still keeping them safe.  We don’t do these things because we hate them and want to make their lives miserable, although that’s usually what they think, we do it because we have wisdom that they don’t and we want to give them a safe ‘yard’ to grow in.

In the Garden of Eden God gave Adam and Eve the boundary of not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He wasn’t doing that to withhold good from them, but to protect them from the evil that would come from it.  Unfortunately, they felt the need to go outside the boundary God had set for them, and it cost them greatly.  There’s nothing harder as a parent than watching your child decide to go outside a boundary you’ve set for them and learn the hard way that you were only trying to protect them.

There have been times in life when looking at the boundaries God has set for us, we’ve likely felt the compulsion to push them a bit, to see what’s on the other side, like the cartoon I once saw that showed two people standing in the road with what looked like a fence in front of them.  One had decided that he didn’t want to be fenced in, he wanted to see what was so good on the other side.  The other was saying,

“It’s not a fence, it’s a guardrail” but it was too late because the other had already jumped over and was falling off the cliff that was waiting on the other side.

Let’s not despise the boundaries, fences, or guardrails that God puts in our lives.  Let’s embrace them, knowing that everything we need to go on in life is within the spaces God has allowed us to live in.  Learn from Adam and Eve’s example that God won’t withhold any good thing from us.  If it’s on the other side of the fence, perhaps then it’s not meant for us.