Originally published: February 16, 2011
Establish my footsteps in Your word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.
A few years ago, we had a little dog named Mathilda. She was cute, but to be honest, she was not one of my favorite dogs because she was completely disobedient. Maybe it was because she was rebellious. Maybe it was because she was dumb as a rock. I never did figure that one out.
We’d tell her to come; she’d run away. We’d tell her to stay; she’d run away. Frankly, pretty much anything we told her to do, she’d ignore and run away. Which was all well and good as long as she stayed inside the confines of our fenced back yard. As long as she stayed in familiar territory, she knew where and how far she could run and still be safe.
The problem was that in order to get from our back door to our carport, we had to go through the gate that kept Mathilda in the back yard.
Did I mention she liked to run away?
One day, someone opened the gate, and Mathilda was off like a shot. My daughter was on search and rescue duty that day, so she took off after Mathilda. Unfortunately, Mathilda, with no boundaries to contain her and in unfamiliar territory, got confused and crossed the street at exactly the wrong time– just as a car was coming. And, sadly, this is where her story ends.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Children need boundaries”? Well, children aren’t the only ones. Just as Mathilda discovered, the world can be a big confusing place, fraught with unseen dangers. Even before the Fall, when there were only two people in the world and things were perfect, God didn’t just turn Adam and Eve loose to roam the planet indiscriminately. He placed them in the confines of Eden and gave them a one rule boundary. It was for their protection and their joy.
As Christians today, our confines are less visible than the borders of a garden. Our boundary is the Bible. For our protection and our joy, we must stay inside the walls of God’s Word. In order to do that, we must:
Know what the Word says:
I will meditate on Your statutes.
Study God’s Word. Memorize it. Dig down deep into it. Listen to Biblical preaching and teaching.
Obey the Word:
So I will keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.
Often, the problems we experience and the confusing situations in which we find ourselves are a direct result of sin. God’s commands are for our good, our joy, and His glory. When we stray from them, things get messed up. And after all He has done for us, is obedience too much to ask?
Go Back to what You Know:
For I trust in Your word.
Sometimes, despite our obedience and our love for the Lord, he allows confusing, painful, awful situations into our lives. We don’t understand what’s happening or why God would allow this terrible thing to take place. It’s especially important at these times to stay inside the fence of God’s word, draw upon His truths we have memorized and studied, and trust Him. When we’re not sure what’s going on around us, we can go back and stand on what we can be certain of: God’s promises.
God is good, not evil. Psalm 100:5
God loves us. Romans 5:5,8
If we depend on Him and trust Him, God will strengthen us to walk through any situation He sends our way. Philippians 4:13
God can bring good out of any situation. Romans 8:28
Suffering can bring about invaluable spiritual growth. Psalm 119:67, 71, Philippians 3:10, Romans 5:3-4
God’s overall greater purpose is more important than an individual’s personal comfort. Genesis 50:20, John 3:16
God is faithful and will not abandon us. II Thessalonians 3:3, Deuteronomy 31:6,8
God’s comfort is available to us. II Corinthians 1:3-5, II Thessalonians 2:16-17
One day, all things will be set right. Romans 12:19, Revelation 21:3-4
Know the Word. Live it. Breathe it. Stay inside its good and protective boundaries. It’s for God’s glory and our joy.