Category: Boundaries

Baack to the Sheepfold – Again

Baack to the Sheepfold – Again

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve written a blog post. A lot has changed in a year. I quit a job. I wrote a book. I discovered Holy Yoga. I rediscovered myself.

A lot has also changed in a month. For everyone. All because of a tiny virus spreading across the globe like a tidal wave, leaving death and disruption in its wake. Each of us is adjusting to a “new normal.”

When I dusted off my blog today, I was surprised to see the title of my last post, dated April 7, 2019: “Baack to the Sheepfold.” I was already planning to share what I hope is some timely encouragement from John 10. About–you guessed it–the sheepfold. So, I guess I’ll just pick up right where we left off!

To recap, sheep are my favorite. John 10 is also my favorite. Today we’ll focus on the first verse in that sheep-filled chapter, as Jesus introduces us to the metaphorical sheepfold:

Truly, truly I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. (John 10:1, NASB)

The imagery of the sheepfold is a familiar one. But when I read this verse a couple of weeks ago, it took on new significance in a world now revolving at a safe social distance. I found myself identifying with those poor, penned-up sheep, hemmed in by confining walls. And this was only Day Four of “sheltering at home.”

I glanced down at the study note on John 10:1 at the bottom of my Bible page:

“Fold of the sheep: A court surrounded by walls but open to the sky, and with only one entrance. The walls kept the sheep from wandering and protected them from wild animals.”

NASB Study Bible

I prefer the wide-open spaces. I live in Wyoming, after all. Yet, like it or not, new “walls” have been erected around all of our lives, graffitied with names like Social Distance, Self-Quarantine, and Shelter at Home.

But the walls of the sheepfold exist for a reason. They keep the sheep from wandering, something sheep are quite prone to do. People are prone to wander, too. How many medical professionals have recently pleaded with us to just “Stay Home”? We’re a bunch of wayward sheep in need of some social boundaries.

The walls also protect the sheep from wild animals–and shield us from vicious viruses. A good shepherd pens his sheep for their own good. These walls are for our welfare.

But what I loved most about the description of the sheepfold was that it is “open to the sky.” The sheep pen has no roof. One can feel the gentle breezes or look up and see the stars at night. There is freedom, even in the midst of restriction.

Our bodies may be enduring what feels like endless days within the four walls of our homes. But our spirits remain gloriously free. Our souls are “open to the sky.” We have unrestricted access to our loving, heavenly Father. Our prayers can never be quarantined.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains–where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

Are your walls closing in? Are you feeling a bit stir crazy? Tired already of being cooped up?

Look up. Lift your eyes heavenward. Feel the Son’s warmth on your face and breathe in the fresh air of His Spirit.

If the door to the sheepfold is temporarily barricaded, it’s only because the Shepherd is protecting His valued sheep from unseen predators. Trust Him. When the time is right, He’ll release you from the fold and lead you out into the green pastures He is preparing for you.

Freedom and Fences

Freedom and Fences

I let up on the accelerator when I spotted the two young antelope out the left window of my mini van this afternoon.  Now antelope are not an unusual sight on the Wyoming prairie.  Hundreds of pronghorn antelope roam freely on the gated community we currently call home.  But these two had wandered outside the gate and were grazing on the grass median between the on-ramp and the highway, oblivious to the danger speeding past them at 65 mph.

I breathed a silent prayer, wishing there was some way to shoo them back under the overpass and into the safe confines behind the gate.  Didn’t their mama warn them not to play near the highway?  Weren’t they free to move about wherever they wished as long as they stayed within their boundaries?  Didn’t they understand that the fences were there to protect them?

I don’t suppose we humans are all that different when it comes to boundaries.  We truly have been given “a spacious place” (Psalm 18:19) in which to graze and roam.  But the grass always looks so much greener on the other side of that fence.  Surely a quick trip to check it out won’t hurt anything.  And next thing you know we’re dodging semis out on a four-lane highway.

Here are a few things our Father God has been trying to teach His prone-to-wander children since the beginning of time:

1)  His desire is that we experience freedom and provision under His loving care.  “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden…”

2)  In His wisdom He has established certain boundaries.  “But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…”

3)  These perimeters are for our good and for our protection.  “For when you eat from it you will certainly die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17)

We mistakenly equate freedom with a complete lack of restrictions.  But the fences are the very things that guarantee our continued ability to enjoy our freedom.  To live contentedly within the perimeters God has laid out for us in His Word, we must trust His heart towards us.  If He says “No” to something, it is only because He wants to protect us and provide for us.

Temptation will call out to you from across the fence.  Our culture will try to convince you that following God is too restrictive and that you will miss out on all the fun.  The enemy will put his own spin on God’s instructions:  “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1)

Don’t be fooled.  An interstate is no place for antelope.  Or people.  True freedom is found in listening to God’s voice, and remaining within the protective confines of His love and care.

“Whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”  (Proverbs 1:33)

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