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The Value of Boundaries

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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The Lord said to Moses, "Command the Israelites and say to them: 'When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance is to have these boundaries ... this will be your land, with its boundaries on every side.' "

Numbers 34:1-2

The backyard of my childhood home borders an apple orchard and, beyond that, a forest of pine trees that sway and whisper in the wind. When we were little, my sister and I were allowed to explore to the far edge of the orchard, but the pine forest was deemed off-limits--and for good reason. The forest was enormous, and it was difficult to tell how far it stretched. It would have been easy for anyone to get lost in it, but especially children.

When God blessed the Israelites with his gift of the Promised Land, he did not give them free reign over all the land but instead named clear boundaries on every side--mountain ranges, the Mediterranean Sea, the Jordan River. This was not a random decision; God established these boundaries in order to protect his people.

Boundaries often feel negative to us. We feel constrained and limited by them. We might wonder why God is intentionally holding us back by inhibiting us from entering the places we desire to be. Yet boundaries are good for us. They keep our ambitions and desires in check. The boundaries God gives us are just one of the many ways he surrounds us with his love and protection.

Just as my parents knew that the pine forest was a potentially dangerous place for my sister and me, God knows the threats that await outside the boundaries he gives us. God gives us boundaries in our professional and personal lives not to punish us but to protect us.

FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:

Have you ever resented God for restricting your progress or ambition by establishing certain boundaries in your life? Try to think about those boundaries in terms of the possible negative situations and circumstances they might be protecting you from. Can you think of a time in your past when a boundary you initially resented turned out to be for your own good?

PRAYER:

Lord God, sometimes I find myself bumping up hard against the boundaries you have established for me. I feel frustrated when it feels like you are intentionally limiting me in some way. Help me see your love and protection in these limitations, Lord. Help me know and trust in my heart that these boundaries are your way of protecting and loving me. Amen.

READ THE PASSAGE IN CONTEXT:

The Lord said to Moses, "Command the Israelites and say to them: 'When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance is to have these boundaries: Your southern side will include some of the Desert of Zin along the border of Edom. Your southern boundary will start in the east from the southern end of the Dead Sea, cross south of Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and over to Azmon, where it will turn, join the Wadi of Egypt and end at the Mediterranean Sea.

" 'Your western boundary will be the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This will be your boundary on the west.

" 'For your northern boundary, run a line from the Mediterranean Sea to Mount Hor and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath. Then the boundary will go to Zadad, continue to Ziphron and end at Hazar Enan. This will be your boundary on the north.

" 'For your eastern boundary, run a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. The boundary will go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain and continue along the slopes east of the Sea of Galilee. Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Dead Sea.

" 'This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side.' "

Numbers 34:1-12

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