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Tearing Down Fences

Before we purchased our home we immediately fell in love with the big double lot. We knew we wanted a family, so like many, having a big yard was important. There was only one problem, only a small part of the yard was fenced in. At the time we only had an infant, we figured we had plenty of time to save and grow into the space and someday add a nice privacy fence to the entire yard. But time and money have quickly slipped by and here we are 8 years later and still no fence. As the boys have grown it has been increasingly difficult to keep them confined to the space provided that I deemed “safe”. Safe from speeding cars, leery strangers, and pesky animals on the loose. But in the past few weeks I have come to realize why God maybe never allowed us to put up that big ole fence I had dreamed of.

You see we homeschool my youngest son. This isn’t by choice of my own, but pure necessity and obedience to God. One of my biggest fears with having this exceptionally extroverted child at home is that his social skills will suffer. As God often does, He has answered my worries even before I prayed by allowing my son to befriend some of the neighbor kids.

My immediate response to him inviting half the neighborhood over to jump on the trampoline was not one of joy, but concern. “Would they be nice to him?” “Would he be nice to them?” “Would these kids I don’t know be a good influence on him.”If we just had that stinking fence, I could keep him safe for just a bit longer from the whiles of the world.” And yet something tugged at my heart to not shy away from opening up our large yard to these kids who had none. I could see how much happiness it brought to my son to have friends to play with, to learn with, and to share the joys of life with. I knew deep inside I was watching him be a missionary all in his own little way, just as God has designed him to be.

And just today as I glanced out the window to the yard full, laughter and smiles breaking across faces as I see them throwing the football and dashing about, I know why God never let us have that fence. For if we had that fence, we would have cut off every opportunity for my son to have the friendships God knew he would need in this season. And the chance for him to develop the skills he will need as an ambassador for Christ.

This begs the question where else in my life have I wanted to build fences where God has asked me to keep them down? In this big and scary world, it’s all too easy to buy into a “self-preservation” mindset. I keep my resources close - my time, my money, my family. I don’t want to share. Much less go out of my way to do it. And yet, seeing the way God has used my son to push me out of my comfort zone to love on a bunch of needy kids, opens my eyes to see the needs around me reach far beyond my back yard. And if I will take the time to notice them and open my heart to meet them, I wonder what God would do? And if we all did this, what kind of world change would we see?

It's far too easy to sit in my comfy corner and pretend that all the world issues are far bigger than me so I might as well not even try. Oh, I say a prayer here or there. Offer a few donated items or a check when the special speaker visits our church. But really get down and dirty, naw. Not for me. I do enough here at home with my two boys and a few nice words on social media. Right?

Wrong, so very wrong. When we see Jesus in scripture He isn’t hiding out in a comfy home or behind a computer screen. No. He intentionally went to where the hurting people were. He went to the well to find the woman who needed His love. And this challenges me to go to the well too. And if not to the well, then create that space here in my every day so that anyone passing by, would know this is a safe space to stop and get a drink too.

What God has been working on my heart these past few weeks is a breaking for the things that break His. A realization that there is a need so vast, that even I can take part and still make a difference. Not the other way around. So, whether that’s cookies and juice boxes in the back yard with half a dozen kids, or sharing love with the ones who others deem unlovable. It’s time for me to get up and get going tearing down the fences I have built to keep myself safe. And I have found there is freedom in setting down my walls and getting off my high horse and stepping into the unknown with Jesus. Allowing Him to be my shield and protector from the big and scary this world has to offer.

And this past Sunday, when one of the little neighbor girls we invited to church stood singing her precious heart out, another fence in my heart began to drop as I knew this was exactly the moment each of us in our family had been placed here for.

We are truly here for such a time as this. This moment. This city. This home. This yard. None of it a mistake and the weight of responsibility daunting. And wherever that is for you, this is your call too. Would you take this week and look beyond the proverbial fences you have allowed to be built around you and see who you may be missing that God would have you bless? Stop hiding behind your fears and the ways you feel so unqualified. For if God can use a 6-year-old little boy and a prayer of one mama’s heart for community, He can certainly use you to reach the people right on the other side of your fence.

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Thank you for sharing this story and message. It is one of the best ones I have come across in a long time. I, too, need to tear down some fences and give of myself to others more.

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