“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6)
In Fresh Wind, Fresh Desire, Heidi wrote regarding boundaries: “The wooden fence protects a family dog from wandering off into a forest where predators lurk.”
It was interesting that I read this just a few hours after hearing some nearby animal predators doing more than just “lurk” in the woods we live in. I knew they were causing all the howling, screeching, and yelping going on not too far from our house! I didn’t see them, but the predators had to be a pack of hungry coyotes attacking a dog. The frantic, pathetic howling of the prey went on for several awful, horrible minutes.
It was agonizing for the animal, but it was also agonizing for us who were listening. By no choice of ours! Inside with the front door and windows shut, we still heard it loud and clear! And we could do nothing about it. The screeching and yelping eventually got quieter and quieter until, finally, the tormented prey was “quieted.” 😞
Living in the woods, there are no fences around here that would actually keep a dog safe, if we had one. We have fences that keep cows in and people out…
…and fences that keep horses in…
(I took both of the above photos out on my walk recently.)
…but neither of these fences would keep a predator out. And neither fence would have helped that poor dog, as both the coyotes and the dog were quite capable of slipping through them. Maybe not unscathed going through the barbed wire fence, but they could still make it through.
But I’m certain that if we did have a “thorough” fence around our property ~ like maybe a concrete wall or an electrical fence ~ and if the dog had been on the inside of the fence, and the coyotes on the outside of it, unable to get to the dog, that dog would have felt that “the boundaries had definitely fallen for it in pleasant places.”
The point, of course, is that, without any boundaries, those coyotes were free to attack whatever animal they wanted, and that dog lost any and all freedom it thought it had living out in the country.
BOUNDARIES ABOUND, ALL AROUND!
Boundaries are everywhere and come in a variety of ways. Let’s take a quick look at a few…
Marriage boundaries: We state our marital boundaries in our vows, which include loving, honoring, and cherishing this person, and no others ~ in the same way.
Road boundaries: The lanes, lines between lanes, shoulder, the concrete divider between freeway lanes all provide boundaries that, unheeded, have very unhappy consequences.
Getting more specific, if a vehicle goes outside of these road boundaries, they will literally land in the water ~ and most likely, their demise.
Clothing boundaries: It covers parts of the body that need to be kept warm and/or private; exposes (at least) the hands that work and face that needs to see, smell, and eat.
Organizing boundaries: Shelves, boxes and bins keep items separate and able to be quickly and easily accessed.
Time boundaries: Many aspects of our day ~ like getting up, going to work, meetings, naps, eating, shows on TV, and bedtime ~ have time boundaries that keep our day regulated and in order.
Relational boundaries: There are certain things we do and talk about with people depending on their relationship to us. Like I talk with my husband and closest friends about deep and personal matters, but not to mere acquaintances, bank tellers, or grocery clerks.
Geographical boundaries: Borders between states and countries keep citizenship ~ and the responsibilities and privileges thereof ~ clear; residency defined.
Property boundaries: Fences, lawns, landscaping define yards and boundaries between properties. (Clearly this fence would not keep the ocean out! But it would delineate property lines.)
Store sections: Certain things can be found on Aisle 8 and others on Aisle 3; certain things in the bakery, and certain things in the produce section ~ all of which have boundaries within those boundaries!
Train boundaries: The tracks are very clear boundaries, and a train going off of them results in a literal “train wreck” and “derailing.” Tracks might seem very limiting, but a train has complete freedom to go anywhere the tracks can go only when it stays on the tracks! When it derails, all freedom is instantly lost!
Building boundaries: A home consists of boundaries in the form of rooms, which are made of walls, ceilings, and floors. And the outer walls are a boundary, too: I live in this house, and not in the yard, sidewalk, road, or next door.
SO WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM THIS?
I’m sad to say that I have not seen my food boundaries as “falling for me in pleasant places.” So, knowing the Lord wanted to teach me some things about them, I started pondering the above pictorial boundaries, and their various roles and advantages. Some pretty amazing truths surfaced. Boundaries…
:: close the gap on wondering if this or that is beneficial to me ~ like getting down to a zero is beneficial; getting to a 7 is not.
:: help me love and honor my body; overeating is not cherishing myself.
:: make me stay aware that there’s a heavy (pardon the pun) price to pay for a few moments of out-of-my-boundaries eating.
:: keep the eating dynamics of my life regulated and in order.
:: help me to not become discouraged, ready to throw in the towel, and thus “derail.”
:: keep me aware of the limits of food’s capabilities: it can feed and nourish my body, but it can’t satisfy my innermost needs and desires.
:: make it clear where I’m to be in my eating any given moment. (Eat when I’m at a zero; stop when satisfied, not stuffed.)
:: keep eating from becoming something it isn’t: a pastime or hobby. (I’m already there, so my boundaries are retraining me.)
:: not allow the enemy to devour me ~ along with my peace, hopes, desires, and goals.
:: give me freedom! I am free to go where the Lord wants to take me only as I stay on track and heed the wisdom-based boundaries He has given me!
Do “all the above” seem like they might be a lot more pleasant than I have been thinking? Living boundary-less – as my flesh would like to – leaves me wide open to be preyed upon by the enemy and every temptation he brings my way with the intent of basically devouring me. He wants to destroy my success, my peace of mind, my goals, my vitality and health, along with any possibility of a long and productive life.
Let me ask you: Are inheritances pleasant? How about prizes? How about joy? Guess what… These are all contained in this verse:
“The Lord Himself is my inheritance, my prize, He is my food and drink, my highest joy!” (Psalm 16:5)
When we have the Lord, and when we seek Him, and allow Him (as opposed to our flesh) to determine our boundaries ~ in anything, including but not limited to food ~ we have the Ultimate in pleasant! And, as such, I need to partake of Him more frequently. When I don’t, I am lacking in pleasantness in my heart, and I am prone to look for false, fleeting, momentary, or imitation pleasures ~ including but not limited to food, or at least eating it outside my boundaries.
But it could be anything ~ for some it might be alcohol, for others drugs, or excessive shopping, or porn, or… doesn’t matter ~ nothing satisfies our deepest needs other than the One who made us.
“Be delighted with the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4)
That verse is easy to misunderstand, turn around and get mixed up, even disappointed about. Why? Because we are actually delighted with our own earthly pleasures, not really with the Lord. When we are truly delighted with Him, we will get ~ from Him ~ the desires of our heart because our heart is in alignment with how He created it to be delighted. Not with things that destroy us, mess us up, or steal our joy.
This actually goes right along with:
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33)
And one of those “things that shall be added unto us” is a fresh new view of godly boundaries regarding food! What we have seen as UNpleasant, God will turn to being a “pleasant place” that’s filled with delight, as (and only as) we surrender our will to His. For me, that means surrendering my (supposed) right to eat all the food I want when I want it, even if I’m not hungry! I have thought that eating without boundaries was the essence of pleasant and delightful. But nope! This is the essence of pleasant and delightful:
“The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of meditating in his Temple, living in his presence every day of my life, delighting in his incomparable perfections and glory.” (Psalms 27:4)
Those are the boundaries I want to live within and enjoy! The rest of the verse actually sums up what happens when I do:
“There I’ll be (in His presence, delighting in Him ~ the ultimate in pleasure) when troubles come.”
What kind of trouble? … Trouble overcoming temptation to overeat… Trouble with getting peace in a difficult situation. (Food will only take my peace; not give it!) … Trouble with feeling overwhelmed. (Food does NOT help me get UNoverwhelmed!) … Trouble making a decision or knowing what to do next. (Food has no power to help me make a decision; it only subdues the anxiety ~ for as long as it takes to eat it.)
If I enjoy peace, God’s presence, joy, not derailing or being destroyed, then yes, God’s boundaries definitely fall in the most pleasant of places. Not flesh-pleasing places, but truly, deeply pleasant places!
Love this Barb! Very timely as our class is discussing boundaries this past week!
Thank you for putting into words what my mind has begun to understand. Your illustrations and comparisons are so helpful!
Beautifully written, Barb! I love this and it has been helpful for me in getting back on track with following my boundaries consistently.