Archive for the ‘don’t go over the fence’ Tag

Don’t Go Over the Fence   Leave a comment

I used to love it when my dad would watch us when we were little because he was pretty much of a pushover. He let us get away with a lot of things. We’d spend all day pretty much making messes and then he’d clean up just before Mom got home.

Dad didn’t have a lot of rules. The big one was “I give you a big yard. Don’t go over the fence.” Dad took that one very seriously. Inside the fence, there weren’t a lot of rules and they mostly involved not hurting others. Don’t kick the dog, don’t drink drain cleaner, don’t climb on two chairs and break into a locked box to get to the home defense gun, don’t touch the stove without adult supervision. Even if your playmate says it’s okay, don’t hit one another. Otherwise, we could climb trees, bang pots, and slide down the stair bannister into a mattress we pulled off a bed.

Dad gave us a lot of liberty and the rules inside the fence made sense, but Tommy used to chafe at the fence. How dare Dad limit our freedom to just our back yard! Dad had reasons — years later the guy behind us was sent to prison for sexually molesting children. I suspect Dad sensed what was going on. There was traffic in the street. There were moose wandering the neighborhood and an occasional dog running through. But we kids didn’t know that. We were just having fun … until we got to the fence and then Tommy would whisper that we were being denied our due. Other children were allowed to play in the street, to go to other yards. Why was Dad being mean?

Tommy eventually decided to test Dad’s resolve and go over the fence. He spent all day sitting in a corner with a spanked bottom while the rest of us had fun. He muttered that Dad was mean. It seemed so. After all, nothing bad had happened to Tommy except what Dad had done to discipline him.

Then the neighbor kid, who was allowed to go to other yards, got hit by a car. He ended up with a broken arm and we came to understand why Dad said “Don’t go over the fence.” It wasn’t that Dad was mean. It was that he was trying to keep us safe in a world that isn’t really safe.

Eventually, I grew and left the fence with my dad’s full blessing, but there is a part of me that misses that Dad-created circle of safety … of having almost limited liberty within definable bounds.

There are a lot of things in this world that are unsafe. Some of those risks we humans are not aware of. God, having a Big Picture view of the world, is. He gives Christians a few rules inside a big yard and tells us to obey those few rules and not go over the fence. Within that context, we have incredible freedom to truly enjoy life as it is meant to be. There are occasional risks within the bounds of God’s liberty, but those are definable and discoverable — could you hurt someone with this activity? Even if they say it’s okay, don’t do it. As long as we stay in the yard, we may never know the harm we are missing. But when we decide to test the limits of His liberty, then we expose ourselves to many risks. We may be having so much fun exploring forbidden territory that we don’t even realize what danger we’re in. It could be that we’re incapable of recognizing the danger, but God knows and He tells us to get back inside the fence — not to be mean, but because He loves us more than we love ourselves.


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