We take pride in doing what we want, when we want. It frustrates us when we are shackled by circumstances. When it happens, we encounter a boundary. A boundary is the place that marks the spot where we are forced to stop.
The Bible teaches God created boundaries for each person. He did not create them to limit us. He created them so we might find Him in our world. He is located in the boundaries.
Boundaries are frustrating because they stop us in our tracks. They come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it is temporary. Unfortunately, at other times it may be permanent. We can find boundaries in our finances, health, mental capacity, emotional well-being, and age. Really, any circumstance that stops us from doing what we want–that is a boundary.
I have a dear friend who is talented, wise and productive. She is a contributor to society. Her family, the church she attends and her co-workers all benefit from her presence. She was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Doctors say she has a year. She has bumped into a boundary.
My mom recently broke her foot. She is healthy and active. She was doing laundry. She just stepped the wrong way and pop—her foot broke. She found a boundary.
I know a man stuck in his career. He has held the same title for 12 years. He has done continuing education. He has received annual high performance ratings. Yet, he has been passed over 5 times for a promotion. He has run into a boundary.
I know a student athlete who desperately wants to be a starter on his team. He works out. He runs. He has skills, but there is always someone who seems to be stronger, faster and a little more skilled. He is rubbing up against a boundary.
You know you have found a boundary when what you want is just beyond your reach; and no matter what you do, you can’t change it. God uses boundaries to interrupt our lives. He is not being cruel. God did this so that you and I would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, because he is not far from any one of us.1
When we reach a boundary, it feels like God is nowhere near. We feel pain, sorrow, frustration, disappointment and fear. Yet, it is in the boundaries God has lovingly hidden Himself. If we look for Him we will find Him and the grace of God will become practical.
Gary was one of four sons. His first religious memories are of his mother taking him to church as a child. His parents argued often and his dad did not see any value in spiritual activities. To have one less thing to fight about, Gary’s mom gave up attending church. Gary stopped too.
As a teen, Gary’s home life was tense. He felt disconnected from his parents and lacked moral guidance. For thrills he started stealing bikes and selling them. This activity laid the foundation for more poor decisions. He eventually started breaking into homes.
After graduating from high school, he realized he could make money selling drugs and fencing stolen property. After some trouble with the law, he determined his life needed a new direction. He joined the National Guard and became a mechanic. He says of himself at that time, “I looked good, but I was living on thin ice.”
After his military service ended, he found a job with the City of Akron’s Water Department. Even with a stable job, He took up his old habits of selling drugs and stolen property. His life was in a downward spiral. It is here that God sent a man named Steve. Steve worked in the same department with Gary.
At the end of a workday Steve would catch Gary and walk with him to his car. He would share Scripture and talk of his relationship with Jesus. His persistence and patience was irritating. Finally, Gary told Steve, “I have no need for your Jesus.” Steve backed off, but Gary said, “I started missing those conversations.”
Two weeks later, Gary was involved in a severe car crash. When his truck finally stopped rolling and the noise of wreckage went silent, he heard Someone say, “Gary, have you had enough.” It is here that Gary found God in his boundary.
He walked away from the crash, but he walked back to Steve. All he could think about were the Scriptures Steve had shared with him. He was ready to listen and learn. The next day Gary received God’s grace and became a follower of Christ.
Eighteen months later, Gary married, started a family and became the father of three children. Looking back on his life Gary says, “God has blessed me. My life hasn’t always been easy, but God has been faithful. I’ve learned to look for God when I hit a boundary.”
Before you try to break through your next boundary, pause and look for God. His presence and grace are close at hand.