What do fences, faith and freedom have in common?
It’s a picture of an old country church in Arena, N.D. Weathered siding is mostly devoid of paint. The building stands abandoned in a dried grass field. There is little to indicate there were once people of faith who came here, worshiped with full abandon, prayed to the God of Creation and listened with open hearts to a cowboy preacher who shared the Bread of Life. They lived free protected within the boundaries of a loving God.
Something happened here. There is indication of it. A church that despite its disuse stands tall and strong waiting for those who might one day come again and call it back into use, back into its intended purpose.
In the foreground, is a fence post with a strand of barbed wire wrapped around it. It’s a clue, perhaps, to the demise of a people who once came and shouted praises to their Lord, who took Him into their hearts and their homes, who taught their children about Him. (Click here for a copy of Cowboy Church in Arena, N.D. by Kathy Weisler-Alexan.der, Legends of America Photo Prints.)
Once the fields in this area were open, cattle ranging free. Then ranchers came and set up their boundaries. They did it for protection of the animals. They are moved from one field to another by use of the gate.
People, though, misuse the purpose of a fence. Not wanting to search for the gate, they climb the barbed wire fence. However, they must be extremely careful or they will end up shredded, cut and torn. For one who hangs too long or goes too fast, the result can be deadly.
For far too many a life is lived trying to climb over barbed wire fences and getting impaled over and over and over again. The disaster comes from using fences in the wrong way. Fences topped with barbed wire were not meant to be climbed. Animals know this well. They find the gate and go through.
People don’t want to bother with gates. Gates are too limiting. Why not cross over at our own risk, our own peril? They may survive and they may not. Sooner or later, they will encounter a 200-foot high fence with five double strands of barbed wire on top. Their attempt will certainly mean their total demise if not from falling, then by being torn to shreds.
There is a gate, though, most do not want to use it. They want what they think is the easy, quick way through.
If they would search for the gate, if they would walk an extra mile or two to find the gate, they would find it much easier. It only necessitates opening and walking through.
The gate makes living with boundaries easy.
Humanity once was free to roam every inch of the planet, to walk in the cool of the garden, to frolic in the dew, to eat of every fruit of the garden except one.
Humanity could not stop thinking about that one fruit. What would it taste like? Why couldn’t they eat it? What was so special about that fruit? Maybe it was some secret the universe didn’t want to release. To people, a fence, topped with barbed wire is only meant for one purpose, it is meant to be climbed.
And so, climb they did. When they reached the fruit, the barbed wire impaled them and sent all of humanity crashing to the ground.
God, however, recognized the barbs embedded in flesh, flesh He had created. He knew the barbs would fester and eventually cause their death and torment throughout eternity. Though He had warned them, His heart cried out for them.
Out of love, He provided the Gate. The Gate protects, delivers, provides a promise of a new day. The Gate is the only way through the barbed wire strung throughout this life.
God provided the Church and His people to point the way to His Son, the Gate, whose sole purpose was to save the souls of humanity. Once individuals cling to Him and accept His free gift of love and forgiveness He places His Spirit within their spirit and the two become one. They commit to a bigger faith.
Faith is the path to the Gate. Once a person has gone through the Gate, they are given freedom from the barbs that seek to destroy, body, soul and spirit.
Others shirk faith and climb the fence over and over again, encountering barbs, getting cut and torn in their attempts at freedom. Some even get mangled. Yet when they come to another fence with another protective barrier, they do the same thing and get the same results.
Eventually for them life is one massive tangle of barbed wire, immune to the pain that tears at them, they continue blind to the pain, the horror, the despair.
Entering by the Gate is the only way to true freedom. There are God-given boundaries. In those true freedom resides. God gives room to dance, sing and rejoice with abandon all the while becoming safe in His arms, the only One who has ever cared. Through His omniscient hand, He gives purpose and meaning to life. He dispenses abundance.
Barbed wire fences do protect but only if humans stay within the God-given boundaries. Faith is required to open the Gate. That faith doesn’t limit, it sets people free to be who they were created to be.
It’s time people of God. It’s time to repopulate the churches. It’s time to mend the fences. It’s time to open wide the doors of faith. It’s time to find real freedom.
How do God’s boundaries protect and at the same time free you? Share in the comments below.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (NASV)