Monday, December 26, 2016

Fenced in by God - Martin Wiles

You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5 NIV

What fences can’t fetter, God can.

My maternal grandfather was a farmer whose land was circled by fences. Since my cousin and I had free reign to go and come as we pleased, we often encountered fences of different varieties. Most were hog wire fences. One step up and over, and we had cleared the obstacle. 

Occasionally, the hog wire was topped by barbed wire. This required a little more ingenuity. We carefully pulled down the strand and held it against the top of the hog wire, allowing us to swing our legs over without getting snagged. 

Of course, the most dangerous kind of fencing was electric. What hog wire and barbed wire couldn’t fetter, electric fencing could—primarily hogs. They would inch their snouts near it and squeal as they felt the warmth of the pulsating electricity. My cousin and I proceeded with just as much caution as they did. Touching it would deliver a jolt we didn’t care to feel. 

According to the psalmist, God does a bit of fencing Himself. But it’s not hog wire, barbed wire, or electric wire. God’s means of fettering are different. 

God fetters through the presence of His Spirit who works by reinforcing the knowledge of His commands. Some perceive God as an unfriendly type who sits up in heaven, waiting to zap people for disobeying His commands—which they perceive as nothing more than a list of things they can’t do. And to be sure, there is a host of “Thou shall not’s.”

God’s commands are not given to cause me misery but to fence me in, making it more difficult for me to travel in fields I’d be better off staying out of. His commands are not designed to make life miserable but to guide me in a more pleasant direction. He has my best interests at heart. Obedience to His commands will ensure I experience the best out of life. 

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve questioned some of God’s directions. And some of them I tend not to understand. Of course, I didn’t understand many of my parents’ directives either. I discovered later, however, that my parents were wiser than I was. God is too. I can jump God’s fences or believe He has erected them for a reason. 

How are you responding to God’s fences? 

Prayer: Father, thank You for providing fences that are designed to keep us on a godly path. 

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