Going Beyond Borders
October 22, 2018
Verse for the Week: Psalm 16:6; “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
Current events have us in a flurry of debate around physical borders these days. But regardless of where you stand on this hot issue, God has a personal application for us regarding the spiritual boundaries and borders that govern our lives. Consequently, this issue is not up for debate.
A boundary by definition is something that indicates limits that confine, restrict, and enclose. It’s probably safe to say most of us don’t like limits. Nevertheless, God’s word stands true, and He says they are for good.
Throughout scripture, God sets boundaries. He explicitly assigned land for His people and commands for them to live by, all of which are intended for purpose and protection. Even as far back as creation, He sets the boundaries of the earth, sky, and sea delineating limits for use.
This principle has defined the last decade of my life. Being a widow in my early thirties set the stage for insecurity and vulnerability. Indeed, this detour opened new territory for me to discover in parenting. Immediately, I found myself at the helm of a large ship, with three little people in tow, completely out of my element and outside the scope of my experience.
Although God did not change my situation, and I have remained the sole survivor all these years later, He set up boundary lines and borders that served to protect our journey. By placing us in a community, church, school district, and neighborhood among people that always had our backs, I can see how the boundary lines fell in pleasant places.
Years ago there was a popular Christian book based on a man in the lineage of the Kings of Judah. His name was Jabez. Written by Bruce Wilkinson, the book was predicated on the Old Testament passage of 1Chronicles 4:9-10:
“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from the evil one.” And God granted his request. (NIV)
The book topped the New York Times bestseller list and sold over nine million copies. The premise: Pray this prayer of blessing on a daily basis, and God will enlarge your life in one way or another.
Honestly, this is a good prayer. Especially when the intention has roots of integrity. That said, it can be a dangerous prayer as well. One that when God answers and moves the boundary lines that have hemmed us in and kept us in a pleasant place, can also catch us off guard.
Proverbs 19:2 gives a warning, “Desire without knowledge is not good – how much more will hasty feet miss the way!”
Clearly, Jabez knew there was a consequence to his request. The last part of his prayer spotlights an awareness of entering into enemy territory—“Let your hand be with me, and keep me from the evil one.”
This is where the popular phrase—new level, new devil—can be applied. Because anytime we obey God’s order to take more territory for the kingdom you can bet there will be opposition.
And yet, Jabez still made the appeal.
Scripture doesn’t tell us why Jabez wanted more, but it is apparent he did. Maybe he wanted a new view of an old life? Or perhaps, like us, after traveling the same terrain for a while our natural inclination is to expand. Little by little, we open our selves up for more—more stimuli, more responsibility, more capacity to give and receive. In short, this is growth.
We see this charge to multiply and be fruitful from Genesis to Revelation. Yet, it is only by God’s hand of authority that we accept this charge. After all, He is the master surveyor of the land in which we dwell, and only He knows the battles we will face, and the enemies that will ensue.
In truth, if we have to manipulate to get something we want, we will have to manipulate to keep it. Jabez prayed for God to enlarge his territory knowing it would have to be by His hand to produce something of benefit.
How about it? Is God trying to expand any of your borders? If you have enjoyed the pleasant places of your current boundary lines, perhaps it’s time to discover the deeper parts of your life beyond the borders of today.
I think you just might have some new territory for the taking.
Lord God, Thank you for who You are—my rock and my refuge. I will follow your lead. Prepare me for more, and protect me as we go. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Sometimes I look around and wonder, where am I, and how did I get here? Often, it’s in these moments of disorientation that I discover God is moving my borders. I have a choice to make—go back or go forward.
So what will it be for you?
Take some time this week to seek the Surveyor of your borders. Is He moving you into new territory—personal, professional, or spiritual? If so, go in the confidence that He has your hand and will protect your way.
Click this link to listen: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong
Hugs for a great week and remember, you are not alone. Be blessed; God has some new territory for you to discover.