At first we are tempted to think of that title as an oxymoron. We tend to reason that boundaries restrict or limit, and therefore are not conducive to freedom. But that is a childish and unlearned pattern of thinking. There is no part of life, in actuality that does not need its freedoms to be protected by some rules, laws or limits - a.k.a. - boundaries. It is, in fact, freedom that necessitates and produces those boundaries. To illustrate I will use a simple and common analogy.
Some friends of mine acquired a dog, for the entertainment and protection of their children. The dog was a spirited sort, the kind which would have been a hunter under different circumstances, and with different training. So they began the arduous work of training this dog to stay in their yard. The dog would have none of it! It wanted its freedom to gallop at will! They employed an electric fence device that sent an electric shock into the dog if it crossed its boundary line. The dog continued to endure the painof electrocution, and cross the line anyway, until one day, in its ecstatic and heedless bounding it connected with a speeding truck.
Thankfully, it was not killed, but it was significantly injured, both its back legs damaged somewhat. In time it was able to walk again, with a limp, but never to bound as freely as before. You see, what it had misinterpreted as cruel restriction was its protection. Had it stayed in its almost acre of yard it would still be bounding joyfully without pain today!
And sadly, we are no different! The owners of this dog had poured so much, in resources and time, into the care of this animal, only asking for its sake, and the sake of their kids, that it stay within its reasonable bounds. Yet the ungrateful animal would have its freedom at any cost!
Of course a dog is not able to reason as a human, still, perhaps we begin to get the comparison that as humans we tend to balk at laws, restrictions, limitations,or rules, that we feel "restricts our rights" or "freedoms", when the originators of all those types of boundaries were most likely intending to provide some sort of protection for us.
The Scriptures are replete with such boundaries which we, like the stupid dog, will endure any amount of pain to break free of, being unaware of the "speeding trucks" of life, and other forms of destruction which await us as we bound stupidly along.Thinking ourselves to be brilliant for having "escaped", we go galloping right into the path of death without a second thought! Then, laid up recovering from the natural consequences of disobedience, we want to blame God for our resulting damages! But will we never learn that there are consequences for jumping boundary lines which God has set for our protection!
That is such a simple truth. For example, If we eat irresponsibly we will most likely develop physical difficulties, even potentially life-threatening disease. If we live selfishly then we will have difficulties in relationships! If we refuse to exercise our bodies or minds then they will atrophy into uselessness, and others will have to bear the burden of our care until we finally finish dying. If we refuse to choose those boundaries in which God has indicated that His Blessing (empowerment to prosper) resides, then why are we put out to find that we are not as "blessed" as we think we should be?
Somehow we have gotten the mistaken idea that we get to make up the rules for our own lives as we go along. I can see why those who claim no affiliation with God should come to that conclusion - though it is foredoomed to failure, being that it is not actually reality. However, I can not understand why those claiming to be His own would attempt to live like that, or reason that way!? Why would we claim to love and trust Him on the one hand, and yet treat His boundaries with suspicion on the other? If we believe, as we say we do, and as we often quote, "That all things work together for our good ... in Christ Jesus", then why do we spend so much time caterwauling about those "things"?
Yet we do! I have caught myself on so many occasions striving with His requirements - of forgiveness, for example, or other parts of "loving ones neighbor as oneself". I tend to want to "pick and choose" the times and circumstances where those concepts are comfortable for me, where they seem "reasonable".
I know. That is arrogance and ignorance of unfathomable depths. Yet, if my observations are correct, I am far from being alone in this! I find that I have been on an adventure to know Him, so that I can trust Him, so that I can see, know and acknowledge the boundaries which He has laid out for my own good - and the freedom to choose to stay in them!
First I found that I had no boundaries of my own. We are designed to have those! The idea is that eventually we trade them in for His, and then "everything works out for our good". But first we must have possession of them! It was work regaining those boundaries, that sense of self, that I lost during those years of childhood, duirng the time in which I endured so much abuse. But as in all things, He makes a way for us to find His boundaries, He leads us to them. It would not be fair of Him to expect us to be in them if there were not a way for us to even find them! He is truly trustworthy, the problem is that we tend to judge Him by those whom we know, those who cared for us, or failed to.
We fail to recognize that His Love is the main boundary. And each boundary which He proposes, be it a law or a suggestion for food choices, has originated from His love for us. That is the only thing that is truly trustworthy when you get right down to it! But we can not forget that there is an enemy that wants to distort reality so the we can be snared in his trap. We need to be responsible enough for ourselves to know the Truth of the situation. We are held responsible for finding those boundaries and getting in them, but His help is always available. Asking is hard sometimes, but relief is worth it! He has always loved me, and any time I have managed to find His boundaries, and have chosen to get in them, I found that I was saved from misery or destruction of some kind, or healed, and/or otherwise helped. Why would I want to opt-out of that protection?
The catch is that we must free to choose them! Had the dog simply chosen to respond correctly to the temporary electronic prompter, she would have spared herself the agony of permanent injury! Had she understood where her real freedom was, she would be freer still. So it is with us. The choices are there, and it is an open book test. And Christ has done all in His considerable power to be sure that we are free to make those choices, if we will. Another eternal irony, food for thought, and fuel for prayer.....
How do I spell relief? The same way I spell freedom!