Boundary Lines

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6 NIV

A friend was travelling in Europe when he spotted a sheep with its head caught in a fence. I suppose the sheep thought the grass was greener on the other side. People are a lot like sheep.

As I’ve thought about the sheep stuck in the fence, I’ve considered the boundary lines that govern my own existence, like those David mentioned in Psalm 16:6.  Can I honestly claim, as David did, that I find the boundary lines in my life pleasant?

It depends on what the boundaries are, of course.

My community experienced a thousand year flood a few months ago. The rivers and drainage ditches left their boundaries and trespassed into thousands of homes in a massive, nine parish area. This unruly water destroyed some of my most valued, sentimental possessions and left me feeling as though I no longer belonged here. It’s as if when the river rushed in and crept out, it somehow ushered me into a place without defined borders–a no man’s land. Limbo.

For the first time in my life, I’m beginning to really understand that one’s life does not consist in the abundance of her possessions (Luke 12:15), and I’m not supposed to feel completely at home here (Philippians 3:20).

A few weeks ago, my sister’s lifelong friend suddenly died of an aneurysm. As she lay there dying, unable to speak goodbyes to her loving friends and family gathered at her bedside, I wondered what she was thinking. The doctors said she could hear everything; she just could not respond. How difficult that must have been for her. I kept wanting to say to her, If you hear Jesus calling you, and you see Jesus standing there, run to Him! Run as fast as you can! 

Her death hit many people very hard. She was “so full of life.”

Once again, I’ve thought about that sheep with his head stuck in the fence and I wonder about this friend. When she lay there dying, was she like the sheep, stuck between two worlds? How are those left behind supposed to understand and accept a life like hers cut so short?

I’ve tried to explain to my grieving sister that we need to view life and death with a wide lens. We cannot simply look at the time a person spends between their birth and their death as all there is. There is so much more to our existence than a simple lifespan on this planet. It’s how we live this life that determines how we will spend eternity. The sole purpose of this life can be summed up in Solomon’s words recorded in Ecclesiastes 12:13.

“…Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

If you hear Jesus calling, run to Him! Run as fast as you can! Don’t wait.

Perhaps we should look at birth and death as boundary lines. Truly, a lifespan is nothing compared to eternity. This life isn’t meant to be all there is. We instinctively know there has to be more. We can be surrounded by loved ones, with every physical need met, and still find our souls longing for something more. Those who follow Jesus will one day see their longing for greener pastures fulfilled–beyond their ability to even comprehend!