First Things @ First
While Becky and I were walking the other morning, I was reminded of something that in some ways is taken for granted and in others, let's just say, not so much. It's the subject of property lines. They are the visible boundaries that say to all who come near; this is where my ownership begins. Property lines may be marked by a tree, a fence, a rock or simple stake. It is the owner's way of establishing their 'turf', so to speak. Property lines are not bad, but they can bring out the worst at times between adjoining neighbors.
I remember a circumstance that occurred many years ago between two men that were old enough to know better and let things get entirely out of hand. The dispute came about concerning a property line between two parcels of land that ran alongside the Washita River. The fence that marked the boundary was hardly a fence at all, as I recall. The fence had been neglected for many years and stood in a dismal state of disrepair. What was left of the boundary consisted of a corner post, a little bit of rusted wire and a few dilapidated fence posts that meandered down through the trees to the river channel. The dispute arose between the two men over where exactly one's property began and the other stopped. One suggested a survey to determine the actual boundary, but this was quickly refused because the other didn't want to be out any expense. The rancher who suggested the survey offered to pay the full cost and that was quickly shot down, as well. The one property owner preferred things just the way they were and seemed to defy anyone to mess with it! Things slowly began to simmer between the two for several months until the morning when they both happen to meet at the gate that was adjacent to the entrance of the property.
In a matter of a few minutes' things went from bad to worse. A conversation about what was needed soon escalated into a demand and tempers flared. The rancher who resisted the survey flew into a fit of rage, reached into his pickup, grabbed a hay hook and took a swipe at the other rancher who was standing by his vehicle. Fortunately, it was a swing and a glancing blow. The point of the hay hook just creased the temple of the other man and the blood began to flow, literally. (Sort of reminds me of Peter's response to that servant that night in the garden when he took a sword and cut his ear off. Peter was not aiming for the ear and neither was this man aiming to deliver a glancing blow)
The authorities were called, and arrest warrants were issued for assault with a dangerous weapon. After a few weeks, the charges were eventually dropped by the man who was assaulted because the man responsible for the assault was over 80 years old. (Now you understand why they were both old enough to know better)
To my knowledge neither of them came to agreement during their life on the property line because neither was willing to yield. They lived out the rest of their days in bitterness toward each other. They're both long since gone and the property has changed ownership but the way these two men approached this situation provides some spiritual insight on the believer's life today.
While most may have a difficult time admitting it, many people do not like clear boundaries that determine where our 'turf' ends, and God's 'turf' begins. In fact, there are those, like that 80-year-old man who prefer things be left alone. Better to not know than risk losing some personal benefit, as misguided as it may be.
Permit me to clear up something before I go any further down this path. Psalm 24:1 says, "That the earth is the Lord's, the world and everything in it." That means that anything you and I lay claim to isn't really ours because it's already been surveyed by the owner and the boundary has been clearly marked. At best, anything we may claim ownership of is really on loan from God because He is the Maker of heaven and earth and us. 1 Corinthians 10:26 says, "for the earth is the Lord's and all it contains." That sums it all up, wouldn't you say? One generation comes and then passes away. God still owns it all.
Most refuse to accept God's ownership on anything, including their heart and soul. Sadly, many refuse to accept God's ownership on everything. And because of a refusal to yield their will to live within the clearly marked boundaries of God's blessing, some are angered by what is perceived as a threat to the status quo. That kind of person can be dangerous to be around. In some cases, it appears that kind of person prefers not knowing because knowing might result in their losing 'ground' that was never theirs to begin with.
However, for those who yield to the survey that is completely paid for by the chief owner and operator, they'll soon discover that life is much more enjoyable and beneficial when operating within the clearly marked property lines of God's redemptive ownership.
1 Corinthians 6:20 reveals the property line for all who deny themselves and choose to follow Christ. To all who believe and are saved by His grace, God says, "for you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."
Unbelievers naturally reject any change of ownership or clearly marked boundaries. Sadly, some who believe have difficulty accepting the authority that comes with God's ownership. And like the circumstance mentioned before, things begin to simmer until tempers flare and someone gets hurt, unnecessarily. And God, like the merciful man in the story, dismisses the charge against those who are willing to yield to His right of ownership providing grace and mercy.
As you know, the earlier story didn't have a happy ending.
That all depends on your willingness to submit to His survey of your soul, accept His terms and yield your 'turf' to a new owner and chief operator. All who do discover that living within His property lines is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it's better than they could have imagined!
I trust you are living within the boundaries of the Lord's property lines every day. If not, I hope you will agree to His spiritual survey and allow Him to take out the old dilapidated lines that are not properly marked. Allow the Lord to re-establish in your heart what was long established in His heart for you.
In the end, it's better for you and all who come after you.
God's best always,