I recently heard a news report (yes … this made the news) about Barnum’s Animal Crackers. To show my age, when I was younger, we used to get these in a box like the one on the left above and it had a string for a carrying handle and they were delicious! It was fun to get the cracker out and see which animal it was before tossing it into your mouth. Side note: I later found out from my wife that these are even better when dipped into cake frosting!!! The news though was not so much about the cracker as it was the package! It seems that some group of people found that the animals depicted on the original package were being held against their will by being behind bars and that this oppression was too much to handle! Evidently Nabisco, like so many other companies today, succumbed to the pressure and freed the enslaved animals on their new packaging.
Why are we (today’s humans) so afraid of boundaries … or limits? When I was in my studies for my master’s degree (marriage and family counseling) we read a study that has stuck with me to this day and relates to current society. Most people think that when you eliminate boundaries it brings freedom. I would argue it brings chaos and maybe even anarchy, but there I go thinking out loud again! The study was at an elementary school and on one day the children were let out for recess (my favorite subject) with all of the regular fences and limits in place. The children ran and played all over the playground all the way to the limits of the fencing. Overnight, all of the fencing was removed and no boundaries were in place. The next day the children were let out for recess and not told about the changes to the playground. Instead of the children going beyond where the previous day’s boundaries had been (experiencing that freedom), the children gathered and played closer together in the middle of the playground and closer to the school building! We need and WANT boundaries. I remember counseling one young lady who was in a treatment center and her telling me, “I just wish my parents would have given me some rules (boundaries)”! I will be the first to admit that I was probably, no, I was too far the other way with limits and boundaries, but my kids never wondered what the rules were.
God has established boundaries for his children, but has given us freedom to obey or not. Proverbs 3:12 tells us, “the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Billy Graham writes, “Each Christian is responsible to determine the will of God for his or her life and then to do it. It is often easier for us to do anything other than what we know to be the will of God, deviating from essentials and substituting frenetic activity. But “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). The first step toward a life of obedience is to commit ourselves, once and for all, to obeying God. Joshua said: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). This once-for-all commitment then leads to a daily presenting of ourselves to the Lord: “Present your bodies a living sacrifice . . . to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). As we mature in Christ and in the knowledge of His Word, God expects from us an ever-deepening obedience. Even the sufferings and hardships we face should be seen as opportunities to learn greater obedience; Jesus “learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). As we understand new demands, we must respond immediately and irrevocably so that God can reveal yet deeper levels of His will for our lives. He desires that we bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).”
Father, thank You for the boundaries You have established and help us see that You establish boundaries for Your children because You love us and, in turn, help us be obedient to You because we love and want to honor and please You!