“Love recognizes no barriers.
It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls
to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
“Love recognizes no barriers.
It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls
to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
Boundaries. They keep things in. They keep things out. Sometimes they protect, sometimes they guide. Sometimes they are chosen for us. Sometimes we choose them for ourselves.
I love the visual of being on a narrow path…with few choices, clear disciplines, parameters born of conviction which one day….one day…after much discipline, and choosing to be hemmed in… leads to w i d e o p e n s p a c e s. Seems to me that’s what happens when we choose wisely. I’ve shared with my kids so many times that if they are wise in these early years, their options, ability to choose, freedoms will multiply as they get older. They’ll go from walking on narrow paths to wide open spaces. I just love that visual…and that truth. Am hoping that for my kids, and hope they want that for themselves as well.
Because… if they choose to walk on a broad path now and listen to the culture that says to “do what you want whenever you want however you feel”, well, it will lead from wide open spaces…to… narrow paths which continue to narrow. For the consequences of choices have a way of catching up with us. If we’re wise, they lead to new freedoms, options, choices. If not, they lead to a narrowing of our choices, our freedoms in our lives. When we choose boundaries early on, we get freedom, beautiful freedom, later. When we choose undisciplined lives, we get boundaries imposed upon us.
I guess as a mom of teens and twenties in a culture that equates freedom with the ability to do whatever you feel like, the word “boundaries” brings up a lot in my heart and mind. I’ve said the words, I mean, we’ve had the conversations… But each of us makes our own choices for sure, and finds our own destinations. People can lead and guide,but ultimately, we choose our own path. I know I did, and learned so much…some lessons so the hard way. I know the joys of seeing vast open spaces, and also the despair of having very limited options as a result of making stupid decisions. But, you know that feeling when you walk to the beach on a planked boardwalk that is so narrow that two people can barely pass, and then…then you come to the end of that boardwalk and see the ocean which takes up the whole horizon and the beauty is just breathtaking? I kinda think that’s a picture of what God wants for us, and what I’m praying for in my life and those I love. I’m learning to walk that narrow path in order to enjoy the amazing view. Yep, praying for wise boundaries that lead to wide open spaces…as vast as the ocean is wide.
Grey. It’s that color that’s somewhere between black and white. It’s in the middle. It’s “achromatic” or devoid of color. It’s the color of compromise, the color of a foggy day when you just can’t see ahead, the color of neutrality.
And our world is fast becoming more and more grey. All shades of grey. More than fifty, I’d say.
I am not going to pretend I’m an authority on the movie that is about to come out, ironically, just before Valentine’s Day. I didn’t read the book. I didn’t see the movie. But I’ve seen quick clips that give the viewer the gist of what’s to come. Pretty black and white clear. It’s not too difficult to see where the movie is going to take the viewer.
Life is full of ironies. Lots and lots of ironies. It seems to me that one of those ironies has to do with the fact that oftentimes, the more we seek satisfaction, the less satisfied we are. And the more we turn sex into a sexual exploit rather than the good gift that it is, the more it becomes an endless venture of seeking a destination that’s never found that drains the venture of all that it was meant to be in the first place, a connection. A vital connection to and with another human being. That connection is one that by its very nature cannot be shared with an array of people.
Sex is a gift. Period. It just is. It’s a gift to be given. It’s a gift to be received. But in the world in which we live the beauty of that gift is tainted. It’s as though we take a precious gift that’s a beautiful mix of the emotional , spiritual, physical, and relational…all of those adding a splash of color, and take away the boundaries. Any boundaries. You know what happens when you thoroughly mix a beautiful array of paint colors? You get grey. A glob of grey. Not a beautifully defined, painting, but a neutral glob of grey.
So many wonder why there’s a void, a spiritual black hole of sorts, that they feel in their relationships. They want the connection without the boundaries, the satisfaction without the sacrifice, and the experience without the committment. The grey of compromise steps in as it diffuses any lines of expectations or rules or consequences, and then one wonders why the joy, the color, so to speak has been drained from their lives.
So here’s the thing. I believe we were created for Life with Color. Not just a splash of color here and there, but all out techni-color, bright, beautiful hues of living color. We were created for relationship, for joy, for passions and pursuits. We were created for the Greatest Artist of all time with a multidimensional limitless palette. But in order to be able to live in that beauty, we need to have boundaries. Fine lines that aren’t crossed to protect and guard what is precious. I’m not going to be specific on the sexual exploits of our society…I’m choosing to be grey in this area, because I don’t want to go into the explicit world that is so damaging to others. But I want to cry out my children to stay out of the grey. Know what you believe. Live with boundaries, so that you truly have freedom in your life. That’s another irony. Carefully chosen boundaries, margins, disciplines, and limits, lead to freedom. Freedom. Limits lead to freedom.
One of the visuals that I have used so often with my own children (I think they’ve heard ad nauseum…sorry guys. But maybe not sorry!) is that in life, if you start out with boundaries and wisely limit your choices, the older you get, the more freedom you will have. It’s as though you start out with a narrow path that leads to wide open beautiful spaces. But…But….if you start out with no boundaries, no disciplines in your life, the older you get, the more narrow your path will get. It’s as though you start out with the open field and end with a narrow path with such limited freedoms, choices, and opportunities. Sex is a gift that’s meant to have boundaries as well.
We are body, soul, spirit….physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Where we go, they all go with us. We can’t separate them out for they are distinct parts of each one of us. This is not a ‘rant’ of judgement at all. I know the temptations. I know consequences. It is a plea to wake up and see that there’s more and to identify the lies and truths that lead us down paths that we do or do not want to travel. I have young adult children who I long to have freedom in their lives. Not boundary-less freedom that leads to a narrow path, but wisdom based, choice-based freedom that leads to wide open fields of a life of joy and color. That life of joy comes with boundaries. It comes with predetermined decisions to not go down certain paths that will lead to lots of dull compromise and a life devoid of the joy and freedom for which we were created.
Yes, I believe that we were Created by One True Creator for a life of magnificent Color. Life is a gift period. It is a gift. We are like a masterpiece, a colorful creation for others to see and enjoy and interact with. As paintings come in all styles and genres, we are all incredibly unique. Would that we would guard and protect our hearts, our minds, our spirits, our bodies, in a world that wreaks of gray compromise. Would that we would dare to be different and not lump our convictions and beliefs into a worldview that screams of acceptance of all, and judgement of limits. Would that we would identify the gifts in our lives as gifts and not demand that it’s all about us. That’s another irony. The more we give, the more we receive. Selfish pursuits lead to that black hole that is never satisfied and to consequences that may or may not effect every fabric of our being.
In a world of grey, color stands out. May those who choose to live lives of conviction and boundaries be like a beautiful bouquet in a fog, a star in a black sky, a red cardinal in a bare forest of grey branches. Beauty draws the eye. May courage to stand out in a world of grey draw peoples eyes to the amazing Creator who loves us more than we could ever imagine and created us as a beautiful Masterpiece for all to see. May we choose to be the unique soul we were created to be in the short time that we’ve been given in this life. This beautiful, colorful, precious life.
We were made for more than grey. So much more.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12: 1,2
‘Repentance’ definitely isn’t a word for preschoolers. But most of these young little folks have ample opportunites to learn about the concept! This photo captures one of those opportunities – a teachable moment when the little guy learns about turning and being forgiven and starting fresh. No, he didn’t committ anything major, but learning to turn from wrongs done, and being forgiven is a crucial part of growing up…no matter the age.
His Dad is listening. He’s getting on his level and his body posture says that he loves him and is so in there with him, BUT what he did wasn’t okay and needs to not happen again. The little guy is listening and deciding the cost. Rest assured, those little wheels in his brain are turning and he’s thinking it all through. Free will is a two-edged sword, for sure. We are free to choose the things that are destructive to ourselves and those around us. Free to choose bondage, free to choose freedom, even when we’re three!
I remember as a young Christian, struggling with people’s view of God…that He’s some judge in the sky who looks down and condemns. But the God of the Bible, bends down. Like a loving Father who wants the best for His children and He loves well. He does not relax His standard, but He calls to repentance, to a life that is free from self-destructive sin that eats us from the inside out.
Even my little guy on the fence post knew in his heart that something had gone awry. And it wasn’t just the getting caught. Repentance isn’t the saying, it’s the doing. It’s the owning up and turning around and making things right if at all possible. Yes, repentance is a big word for little guys. But it’s such a crucial part of the whole concept of forgiveness. Learning, turning, and owning up helps us to move on.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about ‘Cheap Grace’ in “The Cost of Discipleship”. This is what he says: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Repentance isn’t cheap. Neither is Grace. They both cost something. My little guy sure didn’t like sitting on the fence. But after he owned up and got a hug from his Dad, he was probably way happier and free than he had been. He owned up and moved on, and he knew that his Dad knew his secrets and loved him just the same. But his Dad also loved him enough to not let him think that his behavior was okay…he wanted more for him and helped him move on to find it. God bends down like a father who calls His children to a better way. Not an easy way, but a better way which includes, not license, but true freedom.
“Or do you take lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4