Fences Give Freedom

Not long ago, my little girl got a new book.

Little Pig Biddle Pig

Little pig, biddle pig, pretty and clean,
sweet as alfalfa and grand as a queen.

Little pig, biddle pig, not far away,
those pigglily piglets squeal, "Won't you come play."

Little pig, biddle pig, snout in the air-
too fine to behave like the swine over there!

They may look content; still, it isn't for you
to romp in the muck like those piggily pigs do.

Yes, biddle pig, you're the prettiest one.
But those wiggily wallowers pig all the fun.

Are you happy just sulking all day on your own?
Is it worth staying pretty and being alone?

Run, piggy run - do a nose dive and flop,
belly down, into the glorious slop!

Little pig, biddle pig, splashing with glee -
as happy as any small piglet could be.

Dancing for joy in the slippery crowd,
with your wiggily friends, ever piggily, and proud.
by David Kirk

It has been a while since any book, much less a little poem for children, got my mind in such a tizzy!

On the surface, of course, this is simply a story that says it's more fun to splash in mud puddles than to sit with your hands folded in your lap.

Why does this book bother me so much? I kept wondering.
Preferring to be different than everyone else does not make someone stuck up. If a person chooses to be different wouldn't they be confident about it, not sulking and pouting?
This book remained in the back of my mind and came forward to roll around when I was doing mundane chores.

I have been
reading the book of Ephesians, and one morning I read this:

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children... But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or course joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person - such a man is an idolator - has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one decieve you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret....Be careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is..." from Ephesians 5

...and I realized what was bothering me so much. It's that LIE again!

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis quotes a schoolboy who was asked what God is like. The boy replied, "The sort of person who is always snooping around to see if anyone is enjoying himself, and then trying to stop it."

It is one of Satan's most accepted and widely believed lies: That God's "rules" are intended to steal our fun!

It is extremely important to understand this concept if you want to have a correct perception and relationship with God! All you have to do is go back to scripture to see the truth. If you read:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." Proverbs 3:11-12
...you are less likely to believe this lie. The more you read, the more you will come to understand that God gives us boundaries to free us from the negative (and sometimes terrible) consequenses of sin.

For example: One of the lies that is most widely believed (or "rules" that is most widely ignored) is abstinence before marriage, yet studies continue to show how this negatively affects individuals, couples, and families - long after the sin has taken place. The consequenses are numerous, and often perpetuate sin (as in the connection between un-wed pregnancy and abortion). They can be as serious as sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS, or as "small" as affecting the ability to connect intimately in marriage.

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When a child has a fenced yard, they are able to play freely - regardless of any dangers nearby such as a lake or a busy street. Cars may be whizzing by only a few feet away, yet the children will play right up to the fence because they know that it represents safety.

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 The converse is also true. If there is no boundary to keep them safe, the whizzing cars will frighten them (and their mother!) and they will huddle close to the house or only play on the porch.

This is a concept that our Father/Creator understood! He gave us rules to give us the freedom to enjoy life to the full!

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10

This "thief" is also the father of the lies.

"...the devil...was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44
Ever since the very first lie to Adam and Eve, when he sets out to convince us that God wants to ruin our fun, he has an ulteriour motive: to destroy us.
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8
When he comes to us with these lies, he is not looking out for us! He has no interest in whether or not we are having fun! His one and only purpose in luring us into enjoying the "pleasures of sin for a season" is to so distract us from God that we will not be drawn to Him and turn from our sin.

"The LORD has appeared of old to me, [saying]: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you [to Me]." Jeremiah 31:3
Satan understands our "free-will" and that we must choose God in this life to give us an inheritance in eternal life. But his goal is take as many souls to hell with himself as possible. And he will do it by any means and by any lie.

Why, then, do we so readily believe the lie?
Because we are not taking up the SWORD! The Word of God.
When you know the truth, it is easy to spot a lie!

I found it interesting to learn that bankers are required to study, handle and memorize money in order to spot counterfeits instead of veiwing various types of bad money that has been discovered. It is understood that it's best for the tellers to be so familiar with what is right that when something wrong comes into their hands, they will instinctively know that it is bad. It won't feel right. It won't seem right. Their senses will be so fine-tuned to the truth that they can easily spot a lie.

How can I, as a parent, put up these kinds of "fences" in my child's life?

1. Teach them the Word of God. There is no substitute for knowing the truth besides KNOWING THE TRUTH! The key word here is consistency. Notice I did not say legalistically. Nothing throws cold water on the embers of a relationship like guilt. The Word of God is compelling. Relevant. Interesting. Don't allow it to be a tiresome chore. Your attitude toward it will set the bar for what their attitude will be.

 Shoot at the goal of having a regular Bible time with your children - however it fits into your schedule, in whatever format works best. Something will always be better than Nothing in this case.

2. TALK to your kids calmly and rationally about WHY God gives us "Fences" (and why YOU enforce these boundaries). This will accomplish two different things: First, it will show them that these are not a bunch of rules that you made up about your own pet pieves and annoyances - these are God's laws for every person of every age. It makes them aware that each and every one of us is accountable to God - even children and teenagers.

Secondly, if given good reasons, most young people will want to make a good choice. My mom believed this, so it was not uncommon for her to share a medical fact, statistic, or news worthy article on any topic that proved why obeying God was a better choice. It is not uncommon to find me doing the exact same thing! We did not always make the right choices  but I will say that many times information was the key to helping me do what was right. The story is not yet written on my own children, but I hope that in the future they will be able to say the same thing. (Disclaimer: I am not a perfect mother. Sometimes I am not even a good mother! I am still on this journey, too, and hoping and praying for my children just as much as you are!)

3. Ask your child to describe what they want their life to look like in 10 years, 20 years 30 years. What kind of family? What kind of marriage? What kind of Job? A ministry? Help them to plan the path they want to take.

Our lives add up to an accumulation of small choices. No one ever wakes up one morning and says "I want to be a drug addict...a homeless person...get pregnant before marriage... have an affair that will tear my family apart..." If you are living hap-hazardly, making each choice as it comes your way, living moment to moment, these things are a possible outcome of that lifestyle.

This is what happens when we fail to look into the future while we are still young and choose the outcome that we want for our life so that we can take the necessary steps to accomplish that goal. If you help your child to do this, when a temptation to step off of the path arrises, you can gently remind them to look at their goal and see if that choice fits into the picture that they have for their life or not.

It would not hurt to do this every few years all through life. Ask your SELF: What new goals should I make this year? What steps should I take to accomplish my goals for my life...job...marriage...ministry?

4. Lastly, (but by no means least!)
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Ephesians 6:10-18

 Happy fence building, mending and enforcing!


joyfully2b4u said...

"When a child has a fenced yard, they are able to play freely - regardless of any dangers nearby such as a lake or a busy street. Cars may be whizzing by only a few feet away, yet the children will play right up to the fence because they know that it represents safety.

The converse is also true. If there is no boundary to keep them safe, the whizzing cars will frighten them (and their mother!) and they will huddle close to the house or only play on the porch."

Thank you for sharing this illustration/analogy--it's a very good one =) especially when paired with the differentiation between teaching God's Word and teaching legalism!

Confessions of a Martha said...

I am finding that there is one distinguishing factor between legalism and spiritual discipline. Legalism says that you must obey to gain God's favor. Spiritual discipline says that because I am in a relationship with God, I want to please Him and strengthen my relationship with Him, so I do the necessary things to accomplish that.

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