The Fence Jumpers

sheepfence

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Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whosoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies; John 11:25

My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth and I wondered if I had been eating cotton. I awoke in a strange room on a gray day with a headache that was so wicked I was sure I had a brain injury.Water.   I must have water.  I moved about 1/4 of an inch and immediately felt nausea and cold sweats.  Ugh, I groaned.  This was the worst hangover I had ever experienced.

As I lay there willing myself to get up and go to the bathroom, his mom came in and checked on me.  “Are you okay?” she sweetly asked.

Oh no, I thought – as I started to remember the night before. I had been out with my girl friends – we had gone to too many parties.  I had too much of everything…when the vomiting would not stop they started to worry.  They called my boy friend.  His mom was a nurse.  The rest was a bit fuzzy but he and they wisely put me into the hands of someone who could care for me during my self-poisoning episode.  I felt convicted and ashamed.  “Oh gawd, what had I done/said or not said last night? I thought….”

This is just one wee example of my life as a teenager and later, young woman.  I was the poster child for poor judgement, wilfulness and self-importance.  My spiritual gift is self-destruction. To note – I was (am) a Fence Jumper.  I knew right from wrong – I knew the path I was supposed to follow…but I jumped over anyway.  Can I hear an amen?

You may wonder why, after all these years, I am writing about this now.  Well it is because though I am on the other side of youthful eh hem – idiocies, I am writing this as an encouragement… to men and women, boys and girls and all of us fence jumpers and whosoevers. 

I am in a season of  life whereas I am walking with those who are experiencing prodigal behaviour personally…or they are parenting a loved one who is the prodigal. I exercised with a friend last week whose son is experiencing a hardness of heart. I spoke with a mother whose daughter, raised in the church, has chosen to live with her boyfriend.  The gals I used to mentor last year are highschool grads and have moved on to the next phase in life.  Some in college, some working, some just trying to figure it out…all of them (and mine) are being stalked by a coldness and remoteness to the calls of Jesus.  Aren’t we all?

So back to my admission of the world’s worst hangover.

Unfortunately we live in a fallen world.  Worse yet, we/I buy the lie that has been shoveled into our psyche since birth.  Are we not the center of our own world? Afterall, “You deserve a break today” – you should “Have it your way”.   Its ok if you “did it your way…”  We judge ourselves by how many “likes” we might get on our Facebook or SnapChat.  Narcissism is a National pastime. People are actually making careers (and themselves rich) by posting their barely-clothed pics in the age of insta-everthing. We fill ourselves up with all things that make us feel important and accepted.  Whatever the cost. Lets face it – initially the “freedom” to do and say as we please tastes really good – Just ask Eve…but after awhile, that bitter apple produces spiritual sickness…and we can never be full.

It worries us, it worries me….because as a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend, I know the meaning of the following statement.  “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”  Can I hear an amen?

But God.

As I chatted with my friend about her son’s hard heart, I asked her some tough questions.  Could he be making some bad choices due to external pressures? Is his behaviour about fitting in? I reminded her of the faith-filled boy who I knew when he was 10 and the young man he has become.  I recalled for her the truth of scripture…

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Then I told her about the fence rails.  Jesus says we are the sheep of his pasture.  To be in His pasture, we need to keep close to the shepherd.  I am always fascinated by the tools of a shepherd – a staff to prod the sheep to greener pastures, a crook to pull them back from a cliff or away from the wolves.  Jesus reminds us, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30

So not to make light of sins of my past or present, or the prodigal behaviours of loves ones – but to make NOTE of how good our God is.  He gives us the free-will to make the mistakes we make. Like my horrendous hangover – It will hurt us.  It hurts Him more…as we leave His pasture and invariably find ourselves out among the wolves. But though we may jump OUT of the safety of His pasture to wander, God keeps His promise to us (the whosoevers).  If we truly belong to Him – we repent and jump back over the rails to Him.

God knows we are all prodigals – that is why He gave his Son, Jesus to the world. So to all us Fence Jumpers, let us not lose sight of the pasture…and pray and trust our Shepherd that He uses that crook liberally to pull us back into safety and prod us into right paths again.

“Father God, I lift up the hearts, minds and choices of us all, the fence jumpers. Lord, I pray that you will break our hearts over what breaks yours and that you will move us, prod us and convicts us when we leave your safe and green pastures.  Let your grace and mercy fall upon our spirits and once again give us ears to hear and follow your voice and not the howling winds of self-importance. Guide us back over the fence to you, Lord.”  Amen and Amen.   

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

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