April 1, 2016

Healing Our Fences

When I was a younger, I lived on a large farm. My grandpa had a small herd of cows and a large flock of sheep. There were barbed-wired fences to separate them from each other and the road. Often we would get a car stopping in to tell us the sheep were out and wandering down the road. We would head out to get in front of them and behind them, bringing them back to the hole they came through in the first place. When one went back through, all the others flowed back in like water. The hole was mended behind them and we went back to the house. Fences are boundaries, marking property lines of ownership. They are also protection for whatever lies within. They keep items from being where they could be stolen, lost, or killed.

God has also created such boundaries for us – fences to define His own “sheep” and protect them from harm. Some of these are laws of nature like gravity. Others define night and day. Still others allow us to breathe and move as we go through our days. Spiritual laws are defined by His character and what He knows we were created to be and do – before Genesis 3. Now those laws are meant to show our sinful hearts and woo our hearts back to Him, enabling us to be forgiven and have greater intimacy with the One who made us.

Like Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, we believe the lies of Satan when we allow ourselves to explore life outside His fence, thinking it will complete us or make us free. A world with horrors against others occur. What one wants is viciously taken without thought of the consequences on the life of the one they are wounding. The wounded one is weakened and becomes defensive or insecure against other attackers. The pattern continues and lives are utterly destroyed. Humankind took down God’s fences. The result is broken people breaking other broken people.

Fences are necessary and good, not obsolete and restrictive. They help define who I am, where I live, and what is allowed in or out. God defines HIS territory in keeping with His perfect character. He gives them to us out of love and for protection from what He knows is outside the fence.

As women who have survived verbal, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, we have had our fences trampled and our lives shattered. We lost who we were in the process. We lost hope of ever rebuilding ourselves and our trust, forgetting to go back and mend that trampled fence. We do not have the energy or the presence of mind to see the hole that is still in our fence. Others come in and wound us further with their words and behaviors. We react like the wounded women we are – cowering or angrily lashing out.

This happens year after year after year after year. Until God brings others into our lives to show us who we are in Him, shining light in darkness and healing our wounds, one at a time.

One day we look up and can finally see the hole in the fence. The Lord sends still others to help us mend the fence with His grace and truth. They stand with us as those who have entered before, try it again. The fence is mended, but the foe is strong and we are still healing. We lock arms and they give strength by their presence to withstand the attempt at re-wounding us. Fences are good.

Fences built up and strengthened over time allow the Lord to heal us. We learn to hear His voice as our Good Shepherd. We grow in discerning what and whom can come in and out that are of Him. When we are out of the pen and in the pasture, He leads, guides, restores, strengthens. When we meet the enemy there, He never leaves us, and we don’t fear them any more. Their power is defeated by our intimacy with the Shepherd and we learn to stay close, trusting His leading and protection.

What do we need to be doing to create healthy, godly fences?

  1. Enter the sheep pen by the Gate. The Gate is Jesus. Your fences were faulty. His are secure. Do you believe that and receive His payment for your sin, so that you can be called into His flock? He is the GOOD Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep.    
  2. Be in the Word, letting it inform your heart of who God truly is, who you are in Him, and what He has called you to and for. Jesus is the Word (John 1:1-14) The Word is Truth, the Way, the Life. Jesus is the Way (John 14:6) back to the safe pastures God created us for. Jesus is the very bread of life come down from heaven to draw all humans to Himself (John 6). Feeding on Him, heals our wounds and gives us confidence in Christ to live forward with freedom and without fear. (John 8:31-32)
  3. Build relationships with mature believers in Christ. Community is key to healing and growing and seeing how others take the Word and live it out in healthy ways, not our previously guarded or hope-less ways. They can pray for you, encourage you, and stand with you when you need to tell those who have wounded you in the past, that that is no longer acceptable.  
  4. Chances are really good that as you walk through your day, you are walking past many other wounded women still cowering and crushed before a trampled fence. Reach out to others still wounded by brokenness, standing with them and calling them to go with you to Jesus to let Him heal and define them – just as He has for you. This takes you full-circle. Someone came alongside you and brought you to Jesus. Now you are coming alongside another to help them to Jesus. Your healed fence in Christ has given you the freedom to really live and be used of the Father. This is joy. (Romans 8)
  • Ask the Lord for eyes to see them and enter into their pain, giving them strength to seek Him who can mend it and make them whole again.
  • Show them your scars and tell your story of His healing.
  • Stand with them against those who try to trample the fence again, knowing how that feels. Walk alongside them to the Shepherd (Psalm 23), and then walk TOGETHER with Him through the valleys, beside the still waters, letting Him provide, restore, and protect you both.

Healing our fences is a process, not a destination we arrive at here on earth. Our scars will always be reminders of the broken fences. In Jesus, the scars are now used to remind us of how He has healed us for His glory and the building of His Kingdom.