At Thanksgiving we got a yellow lab puppy from the Warrens. Our son, Samuel, wanted to name him Chance. Admittedly, it was an ironic name for a good Presbyterian family but it was also my mother’s maiden name. For the first four months Chance slept at night in a crate in a corner of our den. We read that, used properly, a crate would give the puppy a sense of security. Apparently dogs have a denning instinct and it is best early on for them to be limited to a specific area of the home. Their special sleep space where they will not be disrupted should be established right away.

A few weeks ago we left the puppy unattended for several hours, able to roam downstairs. It was his first taste of freedom. When we returned home Rocky said, “Look. Chance self-crated.” Indeed, the puppy had chosen to go inside his crate to sleep while we were gone. A limitation that seemed horrible and scary to him the first night became a positive choice.

Life is filled with societal rules and laws so none of us always can do exactly what our natural instincts dictate.  Most of the time in society these constraints are for our own good and that is always the case with the boundaries set by God in Scripture. There are certain activities and attitudes that are off-limits. Often, the alternatives of attributes like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are spelled out.

In Genesis it says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17) Adam was welcome to eat from an abundance of trees, but there was just one exception. In speaking to Eve the crafty serpent twisted the boundary by asking, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from ANY tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:3) The serpent was trying to portray the one small thing that God had limited as a much broader and more burdensome rule.

Perspective is the key. At times we might resent having any restrictions. We can inflate the nature of these as oppressive or we can recognize their good.  In whatever circumstances God has placed us we should focus on our freedom to do what is right.

May we join with the psalmist in saying, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:5-6)


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