Week 25 Wednesday

Boundaries

Today’s scripture selection: Psalms 72-74

Key verses: Psalm 74:16-17

     “The day is yours, and yours is the night; you established the sun and moon.  It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.”

     In my pastoral counseling I have found one book particularly helpful time and again.  It is BOUNDARIES, by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  I can’t tell you how many times I have found, after exploring some issue with a counselee, that the need for “healthy boundaries” is the key to the problem.

     What do I mean by healthy boundaries – well, Cloud and Townsend cover that better than I can here.  But basically I find it means living life in balance – reasonable self-care and self-respect balanced by empathy, caring and respect for others.  It means you don’t live like a doormat – but you don’t wipe your feet on others either.  And, most important, you recognize and live within the moral and spiritual boundaries that God has set in place.  Not because they are the “rules” you have to reluctantly follow – but because they are an important part of living a healthy, full, and joyful life.

     Thousands of years ago – a wise poet, writing in the Psalms, understood this.

     I don’t think the Psalm is speaking only about how God sets natural boundaries in the world – the dividing line between sea and land; sky and earth.  I think it acknowledges and praises God for something deeper.  God sets the very boundaries in which we live as His children.  And, should we freely choose to violate those boundaries – well, it’s at our own peril.

     Again, it’s not about God keeping us “in line.”

     It’s about God showing us the way to have helpful “fences” in our lives without our building “walls” between one another.  (Again, for more on that…see the book.)

     I praise and thank God for establishing “all the boundaries of the earth.”  And for, through His word, teaching me how to establish some healthy ones of my own.

Prayer: Almighty, all loving God, you show me how to live a life that is full and rich.  You teach me how to help others live that life too.  May I faithfully follow those lines of direction in all I do and say.  AMEN.

      

 

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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