For five months I lived behind walls. I was living overseas in a country where security concerns are high on the list of priorities. Houses are not surrounded by fences but rather by walls or palisades. The gates are intense and the razor wire on top of the walls is intimidating. The walls, the wire, the house alarms, each one was installed with the intention of keeping the occupants safe and secure.
I didn’t really feel safe and secure. The opposite was true. I often felt fearful, wondering what every little noise was. Was there something lurking in the dark? Did I need to be on high alert? I had to train myself to sleep, to relax, to be at peace. Fully engaging with Jesus was the only hope I had.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6 (NIV)
You set me up with a house and yard. And then you made me your heir! Psalm 16:6 (MSG)
The walls were good. They did their job but I didn’t see them as a blessing. At times I felt hemmed in, confined to a life I didn’t really understand but was living. I remember arriving back in my home country and going for a walk and thinking that I really shouldn’t go for a walk because I might not be safe. With a jolt, I discovered that the walls I had lived behind had put up walls in my thinking. After giving myself a mental pep talk about the safety blessings of home, I stepped out for my walk confident that going out was part of my normal life and I would be fine.
I think about the lines that define my life. The line of faith and a relationship with Christ, a career, a place of worship and community, family and my role within it, experiences and fun. Each one channels my energy and time. But without each aspect adding its influence into my life, I would be a different person, heading off in a different direction. These lines shape my experiences and influence my decisions. I want to maintain the lines so that the person I become is truly shaped into the person Christ wants me to be.
Sometimes the lines that form the boundaries of my life get all catty-wampus. I forget to maintain the lines. I let other things get in the way. I choose to make other priorities that are actually detrimental rather than good. Sometimes holes get punched through allowing things into the inside of me that have absolutely no business being there.
I then need to apply some maintenance moments to my life. Rebuilding the line takes work and effort. Weeding out the infiltrators that have established camp can be hard work. But the end result brings renewal and refreshment. When it’s all put to rights there’s a deep cleansing breath bringing release.
The lines really point me to my inheritance. It’s a delightful inheritance. With Christ as the ultimate reward, there is nothing worth pursuing more. Heaven is beautiful, but my relationship with Christ is about more than an insurance policy for my eternity. It’s about a relationship, a friendship where we talk with each other and I continue to be formed into the image of Christ. It’s about discipleship. “… the call of discipleship is to become Christian, to become Christlike, to become imitators of Christ in a fallen world where true imitation of Christ is radically counter-cultural and deeply counterintuitive.” (Zahnd, 2013) The boundary lines focus my eyes and attention on developing into the disciple I am called to be. The lines of discipleship will take my life into uncharted waters. They will have me engaging with my culture in ways that sometimes feel uncertain even uncomfortable. They will cause me to listen to what Jesus is saying and how He is shaping and forming my character. They will cause my feet to move in obedience to the One who loves me more deeply than I could ever imagine.
The lines were never meant to be a wall to keep me separate. They are a reminder of who I am and whose I am. They are a call to live wholly devoted to Christ, obeying as He calls me forward to walk with Him.
Zahnd, B. (2013). Radical Forgiveness: God’s Call to Unconditional Love. Lake Mary, Florida: Passio Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group.