Monday, December 3, 2012

Loving the Fence

Thoughts on the Sabbath School Lesson for 12.8.12

Have you ever seen those dogs who can go outside with their people and they don’t need a leash or a fence? They just stay right in their yard or beside their person. We had a dog like that once. He was a border collie and his name was Shadow. He knew exactly where our (unfenced) yard stopped and didn’t stray from it unless he was walking beside one of us. It was a beautiful thing. Many years later my family owned a beautiful Boxer named Bach. He didn’t understand the concept of “yard.” He understood running, everywhere.
Well, after trying to teach him the boundaries of our yard, we read about something called an invisible fence. Have you ever heard of it? It consists of a length of wire that is attached to a transformer much like a regular electrified fence, except that the wire is buried. The dog then wears a collar that has a little sensor on it that will give the dog a shock when he gets near the wire. The idea is that the dog will learn to stay away from the wire to avoid the shock and learn the boundaries of the area in which he is allowed to run.
Yeah, well, that didn’t work for Bach. I’m sure there are lots of dogs who have lived their lives successfully within their invisible fence, but not Bach. Oh sure, he didn’t like the shock that he would get when he crossed the wire, but he learned very quickly (so we knew he wasn’t completely stupid) that the shock only lasted a couple of seconds and then he was free on the other side. So, if he saw something outside his “yard,” like the little neighbor girl calling him, he’d take a running start and take the shock. Now coming back home was more of a challenge. Once we’d go get the leash and fetch him home, he seemed to know exactly where the wire boundary was and would whimper and resist going back over the same wire he gladly took the shock from a few minutes before. We still have the wire and transformer if anybody’s interested.
Anyway, so we finally had to actually fence in our backyard. You’d think Bach would have been satisfied – he had a full fenced acre where he could romp and chase things – but no. We had to sneak out the front door and make sure it was always closed tightly behind us because he never stopped trying to run out the front door. Bringing groceries was a challenge.
The weird thing was, he really wasn’t interested in running away so much because if you left him alone and the front door open, pretty soon he’d come back in. If you tried to encourage him to come back in before he was ready, on the other hand, he’d run farther away…he loved to be chased. (Infuriating)
Anyway, later in his life he discovered that he could dig his way under our chain link fence and escape that way. (Who ever thought an 85 lb. dog would be able to dig under a fence?) We spent a lot of time finding and filling in his escape holes.
The funny thing was, he almost always escaped from our yard into another fenced lot. He thought he was free, but he was still fenced in. He just wasn’t in his own yard anymore.
I miss Bach even though he was an infuriating dog, but I learned some important lessons from his Houdini like behavior.
1. There are boundaries everywhere, even if we can’t see them.
2. The boundaries were put there to keep us safe and happy.
3. Things outside of our boundaries will call to us.
4. Getting outside our boundaries sometimes takes quite a bit of work.
5. Being outside our boundaries is often not as much fun as we thought it would be. 
6. Sometimes, when we think we’re free, we’re just fenced in as we were before but by a different set of boundaries.
7. Coming back home sometimes seems more painful than leaving.
8. No matter how many times we escape, Someone will always be looking for us. He may not chase us, but His door will always be open for us to come home.
God gave us a set of boundaries, the Ten Commandments. From everything I’ve heard and read, God, Himself lives within the boundaries set by the Ten Commandments along with all of Heaven. 
“The law of God is the foundation of his Government in Heaven and in earth, …” (E.G. White, Signs of the Times, March 30, 1888, graph 7)
Doesn’t that mean that the same rules God gave us here on earth apply to Heaven as well? What if we don’t like the rules? If we feel trapped by them here, wouldn’t we feel trapped by them there? I say yes, what about you?
Although we know that our entrance into Heaven is not dependent on our ability to keep the Ten Commandments, our enjoyment of Heaven is.
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:2-3
“His commandments are not grievous.” Hm, That’s kind of the same as saying, we won’t hate them, right? Well, the writers of the Psalms go even farther than that.
“And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.” Psalm 119:47-48
Can you honestly claim that you delight in God’s commandments? Are you like my dog, Bach, always trying to find a way over, under or through the fences that God has placed around us for our own safety and protection? 
God has shown us the boundaries of Heaven. Jesus died to make sure that anyone who wants to can live within those boundaries with Him. 
The Ten Commandments give us a picture of Heaven – a place where sin does not exist, where Satan can no longer touch us, and where we’ll be able to talk with Jesus face to face.
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” John 3:16-17AMP

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