Stay Off the Fence!
“Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.” Proverbs 4:24 NIV
In the late 80’s, we turned a dreary unused parking lot behind our downtown church in Abilene into a lovely courtyard and children’s playground with tall, modular slides and climbing equipment for the boys and girls to play on. A beautiful ten-foot brick wall securely enclosed the entire area, preventing children from running into the nearby busy street.
One Wednesday night as Grant and I sat in Fellowship Hall visiting with friends, our 5-year-old son Drew slipped out the back door, down the stairs and onto the playground to play – alone. Thankfully, a few minutes later, one of the dads saw him and quickly rushed to rescue him from certain disaster. Drew, our “climber”, had crawled over the upper peak of the tornado slide and somehow (it still makes me catch my breath) maneuvered himself to the TOP of the brick wall, and was walking it like a tight rope. I’m glad he was down and safe before I knew what had happened!
As a child and teenager, I was guilty of a different kind of fence walking. Many times when an adult gave me a rule, I’d feel challenged to see just how close I could get to the line of demarcation, without crossing over and breaking the rule. Often I walked on the line because I was only told I couldn’t cross the line. With one wrong move, my reckless attitude could have been as dangerous as if Drew had taken a wrong step on that playground wall!
The very first rule God gave Adam and Eve in the garden was that they could not eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were told not to even touch it (Gen.3:3). The closer we get to sin, the easier it is for temptation to win us over. The devil is alive and well, whispering “the grass is greener on the other side”. When you try to walk the non-existent line between good and evil, it’s easy to lose your balance and fall in!
Children are curious…or ornery like I was, and naturally want to get close to things that are forbidden. The reality is, your authority won’t always be enough to keep them safely under your umbrella of protection. Keep the lines of communication open. Stay involved in their lives – even when they try to push you out. Know who their friends are. Get to know the parents of their friends. Monitor their activities. Stand your ground and never compromise principles. Pray without ceasing. Love them unconditionally. And for those times they make it to the top of the fence anyway…be close enough to help catch them when they fall.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for protecting me when I made bad choices as a teenager. Please keep my children safe and help me know how to guide them without pushing them into rebellion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.