Earlier in the Thin Within book by Arthur and Judy Hallidays (I think it is chapter 18), the authors show us the value and benefit of establishing godly boundaries. Boundaries are vital in our walks in our “flesh suits” here on earth! We establish boundaries…sometimes to say NO to ourselves about something that we know is outside of God’s plan for us. Sometimes it is a boundary about where we will not let our feet take us, knowing–again–that God’s will is for us not to go there if we want to continue to remain steadfast and firm in the Lord.
Sometimes, during our journey to surrender our food, eating, images of our bodies, idolatry of self to the Lord, we may have to establish pretty stringent boundaries for ourselves initially. For instance, going to a buffet can derail us. If we know that we are at a weaker place in our walks with the Lord, we may want to avoid buffets all together for a season. This is a godly boundary. Or parties. Or ice cream shops. These may be godly boundaries that we have established because we know that we currently can’t cope with the temptation to eat within the 0 to 5 boundary God has given us if we are there.
As we continue on our journey, however, we may feel his leading to allow us to broaden our godly boundaries. The buffet line may not be the temptation it once was…we may now feel the freedom to go to a buffet, but establish a new boundary–that of only going once through the buffet line, knowing that this is a godly boundary for where we currently find ourselves.
It is true, however, that sometimes we take 4 steps forward and grow and then find ourselves suddenly stepping back 3 steps. I am in that place right now. Some huge emotional hits have happened and I know that, right now, going to Chinese buffet (something that has been a favorite for me after church) would be to court disaster for godly eating. I am in a place of feeling sorry for myself 🙁 (Just being honest….) and I know when I feel this way, I still can tend to head for food for solace. (I hate to admit this…and, frankly, I was “past” it for a long time, but see that I am back square in the middle of this tendency now…)
Anyhow, all that to say that as we continue to grow in the Lord and walk this path, we prayerfully ask God, “Where should the boundary markers be NOW, Lord? What can I handle without giving in to my flesh? What should I protect myself from, Lord?”
This past week I was at the Christian book store and I found myself very tempted to buy a bible study guide that is a companion guide for a popular Christian weight loss program. I reasoned “I just want the bible study…and it might be beneficial to giving me the ‘kick in the pants’ I need…” As I flipped through the booklet, however, I saw that it had not only what looked like a great bible study, but that it also included recipes and charts and graphs for tracking exercise minutes and calories…For a brief moment I reasoned, “I can just do the bible study…I don’t need to USE those charts and recipes.” A Holy Spirit alarm went off inside reminding me that a boundary was about to be violated…for ME, I have to have to have to keep away from things that are throwbacks to my dieting days. This bible study book would have been that…I could have easily gotten ensnared again in regimentation and legalism of my dieting past.
As if to drive that point home, I found one of my old journals (20 years old!) when I was rummaging around looking for a book yesterday for my daughter down in the cellar where we store things. I was reminded of just how in bondage I was…even while studying the scriptures and praying the stuff through. I worked harder at weight loss during that time, but stayed stuck at the same weight (bigger than I am now) and lamented in the pages that I was stuck and couldn’t break free…all the while focusing on food and exercise to “save me” (as evidenced by what I wrote on the page…).
So, I am reminded that godly boundaries for me have, indeed, fallen in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6).
I want to be circumspect and always allow the Lord to establish where boundaries should be right now–THIS day–in my life. Given my current vulnerability, I know that the boundaries have to be brought in, be a little tighter, closer in…Give me a long leash right now, and I am likely to hang myself.
But I know that this is just a season. 🙂
What about for you? Do you have godly boundaries? Have you had them for a while? Is it time for you to broaden them? Is it time for you to have new, more “close in” ones? Or, can you now move to being able to experience the joy in environments that you have felt God leading you to call off limits previously? Is he inviting you to step out in faith?
Are you perhaps, more like me, finding that this is a season of life where you need to stay closer to safety? What godly boundaries is God calling you to have for now?
Ask God to show you today. He is faithful!