"And the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'" Genesis 2:16-17 (NIV 1984)
Several years ago my husband and I had the opportunity to get off our couch and be two of the screaming fans attending the Super Bowl. Knowing this was an once-in-a-lifetime event we arrived at the stadium hours before the game to watch preparations.
We took in everything, including the field maintenance crew pushing their carts, carefully chalking in the white boundary lines. At any football game, depending on the weather, these lines face a tough day.
Rain, snow, cleats, and smashed bodies beat against them for hours. At the end of the game, they are no longer white, straight and clean. In some places, they may have been completely rubbed away. But when game time rolls around the next weekend, the maintenance crew chalks the lines back in.
Often, as a parent of three, I grow weary of "chalking in the lines." Peer pressure, TV, music, and Facebook all beat against the boundary lines of safety and godliness I have helped put in place for my kids.
When they leave the house with keys in hand, I'm tempted to think: I don't have to remind them to not blare the music. They know. I've told them.
But then I remember that the world is constantly repeating its opinion on what is fun and acceptable. So I chalk in the lines—again—by reminding them of the boundaries the Lord has called me, as their parent, to put in their life. These boundaries are to spare them from the consequences of bad choices.
Sometimes it's hard to stick to our boundaries when we're tired and busy. Or when every show on TV reveals too much skin and our kids complain, "There's nothing else on." Or when a song has an abundance of crass language, but "everyone else is listening to it." Yes, at the end of a long day, it can be easier to relax the boundaries, but I know I have to keep on chalking in those lines.
The Lord is our best example of setting boundaries for our children. In the Garden of Eden He made it clear to His children they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He set the boundary. It was then up to Adam and Eve to obey. They crossed the lines God had put in place, and had to live with the consequences of their sin.
Just recently, I had to chalk the lines again with one of my kids and they were not happy!
But I remembered a conversation we had several months ago when my son said, "Mom, thanks for my curfew. It's kept me out of trouble lots of times." That was evidence enough for me that when I set boundaries, with love, my kids know I care deeply and want to protect them - even if they don't like the boundary I've set.
I wish I could say all my boundary lines have kept my kids within them, but that wouldn't be true. As they become adults they have to determine their own boundaries and sometimes they aren't what I know God wants for them. But when that happens, and my heart breaks, I am comforted knowing I did what God called me to do as a mom. The rest is in His hands. I pray for them daily and wait to see how God will work His ways in their lives.
My prayer for you is that when your day has been long and you're trying to cook, run a load of laundry and figure out when the next sports practice is, you will not grow weary in "chalking the boundary lines." And that one day your children will come back and thank you.
Dear Lord, help me. Sometimes I get tired of going against the world that seems to have no boundaries. In Your strength, help me to lovingly show my child the way. Soften their heart to accept and trust me as I follow You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Write a list of boundaries for your home. During natural conversations (in the car, during breakfast) bring these up, making sure your child knows your family's boundary lines.
Are there any areas in your own life where you have overstepped God's boundaries?
Discuss boundaries with your child calmly and fairly, guarding against the conversation turning into a heated argument.
Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (NIV)