“Don’t go past the birch tree!” I called to my sons whenever they played in the front yard. The boundary gave them plenty of room to play, but kept them well away from the road. We settled disputes over taking turns with a timer–twenty minutes for one brother’s turn and then a quick reset for the next brother. Later, we reminded teen sons with driver’s licenses about their 11:00 curfew.
Boundaries are a big deal when we’re raising children, and they’re a big deal in the Old Testament, particularly in the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 3 is not exactly the stuff of which a “life verse” is made, and maybe you’d be tempted to skip the chapter all together, but let me point out one phrase that keeps recurring throughout:
“They laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.”Nehemiah 3:3, 6, 13-15
What’s the point of a walled city if the gates are not secure?
Five times in Nehemiah’s counter-clockwise tour of the wall we are confronted:
Shore them up! Every beam; every door; every bolt; every bar, not just for the glory of Old Jerusalem, but for the glory of God, who is, after all, the Center, the focus of Nehemiah’s renovation.
What About YOUR Boundaries?
How are you managing the “GATES” in your life?
What enters your seeing, hearing, tasting, touching?
As mothers, we faithfully oversee the boundaries for our kids, but we have gates, too…
How are you managing your boundaries? What enters your seeing, hearing, tasting, touching? What are you allowing in and out? As mothers, we faithfully oversee the boundaries for our kids, but we have gates, too.Tweet
What are you allowing in and out? “Mindless entertainment” can seem harmless enough, unless we remember those wide-open gates. Friendships, conversations, media, reading material–either they are uplifting, truth-telling, life-giving, or they are soul-corroding.
Eugene Peterson put it succinctly:
Where there is no center, there is no circumference,”
And how we need a circumference–
Not to hem us in, suffocation-style,
But to correct our warped geometry,
To free us up,
To establish the playing field:
“Here is the goal.”
“This is my responsibility. Someone else will cover that area.”
After all, didn’t original sin sprout from the refusal of a boundary?
What if, instead of an outreached hand to harvest death,
Eve’s response had been,
“Let me not be like unto God. Let me be instead what I was created to be.
Today, and everyday, let me secure the gates.
All day long we choose
With eyes, ears, lips, fingers —
Trivial pursuits, mindless entertainment,
The gates wide-open to the corrosion of our souls.
Lay the beams, tighten the bolts and bars.
Guard your heart and live free !
Praying for you in 2021,
Friendships, conversations, media, reading material–either they are uplifting, truth-telling, life-giving, or they are soul-corroding.Tweet
How are you managing the “gates” in your life?
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