A classmate gave my family a registered collie that had become too old to breed puppies. We soon learned this beautiful dog had, sadly, spent much of her life inside a small pen. She would only walk in tight circles. She couldn’t fetch or run in a straight line. And even with a large yard in which to play, she thought she was fenced in.
The first Christians, many who were Jews, were used to being fenced in by the Mosaic law. Though the law was good and had been given by God to convict them of sin and lead them to Jesus (Galatians 3:19–25), it was time to live out their new faith based in God’s grace and the freedom of Christ. They hesitated. After all this time, were they really free?
We may have the same problem. Perhaps we grew up in churches with rigid rules that fenced us in. Or we were raised in permissive homes and are now desperate for the security of rules. Either way, it’s time to embrace our freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1). Jesus has freed us to obey Him out of love (John 14:21) and to “serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13). An entire field of joy and love is open for those who realize “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). (Quote source here.)
After being confined in a small pen for years and only able to walk around in small circles, the poor collie described above had no idea what to do once she was freed from that small pen and given a large yard in which to play. She continued to walk in tight circles and she had no concept of how to play, and she continued to live as if she was still fenced in.
I’ve thought about that collie over and over again in the past couple of days. How often do we feel “fenced in” by circumstances beyond our control that, for example, might be partially caused because they depend on the good graces of others in order to move forward. My own personal search for affordable senior housing is an example. Repeatedly, for several years now, no matter what affordable (as in low income) senior housing complex I’ve shown up at or inquired about online or by email and/or phone, I get told that there is a long waiting list, and even when I get put on a waiting list, I never hear back from anyone. Ever. And even when I do call to inquire where I am on the waiting list a year or two years later I get no response (usually I get voicemail, leave a message, and no one returns my call).
That’s a cause for feeling pretty “fenced in,” don’t you think? While I haven’t been offered a “large yard” like the collie in the above story, I certainly understand her plight when she was finally given a large yard; however, after years of being conditioned to living in a small pen, one doesn’t just change their habits overnight (even if one is a collie).
Some fences we build ourselves, but this particular fence is controlled by others who never call back and offer me an affordable senior apartment in an affordable senior apartment complex, and I’m still stuck living in “limbo land” as I have been for five years now. It’s frustrating with a capital “F” (and I’m not referring to that four-letter word, either).
I want to break out from being fenced in for five years now. Unfortunately, like the collie above, I feel like I’m walking around in tight circles in a big world with housing all around me wherever I go. However, most of it I can’t afford especially long term unless I die really soon (and that’s not in my plans at this point in time).
Sometimes I feel fenced in, like I’m in some tall, invisible cage. I want out! I can’t explain it well, but there’s a sense that I’m being held back from the greater things of life.
Are you there? Do you feel fenced in?
If so, you are not alone. I understand the battle all too well, and I believe God does too.
There are times when being confined is good for our souls. There behind the fence, we wrestle out our emotions and hand over our dreams to the One who created us. In that small space, God reveals Himself to us in a deeper way. We learn to be content in Him all over again. We feel His compassion and love. It’s a good thing.
Other times, the fence needs to be knocked down and destroyed. The fence is only in our minds and it stops us from experiencing joy. We doubt we have permission to live differently. We feel unworthy of more. We question what life would be like outside our fence. And if we were honest, we’d have to admit we fear what’s on the other side.
The truth is God is calling us to live life to the full. Today! Read John 10:10 which means all make-believe fences must go. We have full permission to open His gate of grace and walk out. [John 10:10–words from Jesus–states: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”]
Take comfort in these words (see below) from the Apostle Paul. If I read this correctly, this means no more fences. Starting now!
You are free, friend. It’s time to walk. . . He’s got you.
“Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (MSG). (Quote source here.)
This article refers to “internal” fences we create within ourselves, but the point about fences in general that confine us is well made. Behind the fence we do wrestle with our emotions and, in my case, also our circumstances, and eventually we hand over our dreams to God, and we learn a contentment in God’s provision that we often can’t learn in any other way. However, there comes a time when the fence needs to be knocked down and destroyed.
This post isn’t long, but it’s long enough. I’ll end it with these words from John 8:36:
So if the Son sets you free . . .
You will be free . . .
Indeed . . . .
YouTube Video: “Let Freedom Ring” by Abby Anderson: