Arriving home after church this morning, we were greeted by what would normally be an unpleasant surprise. All three of our goats were out of their pen. With our house being fairly close to the interstate, wandering goats could easily result in tragedy.
The most outgoing of the three, Reese, came running toward us with the excitement of a little toddler seeing his grandma for the first time in weeks. He was so proud of himself for being free. Instead of feeling shame, he was thrilled with his accomplishment. The other two goats followed his lead.
The wonderful thing about goats is you don’t have to chase them to get them back in the pen. All we had to do was walk a little bit ahead of them. They followed us up the road and back into their pen they went.
What are the lessons to be learned from such an experience? First of all, make sure the doors to your livestock pens are tightly secured at all times. Secondly, make sure you have a good bond with your animals so they will gladly follow you where ever you choose to lead them.
More importantly, I believe what we experienced today has a spiritual lesson we can learn. The goats were being kept inside of a pen for their own protection. Somehow, the gate came unlatched. Our little furry friends had a choice to make – stay in the pen where they belonged and were safe or leave the boundaries their owners had set for them. They chose to leave their assigned area and as a result, could have been hit by a car or attacked by wildlife. Fortunately, nothing tragic happened to them.
When God saved you and me, He set up boundaries for us to dwell in, His will so-to-speak. To help us understand His will, He used many men to pen down the scriptures for us to read, study, memorize, and apply. If we read, study, and memorize, yet fail to apply them, they won’t do us any good. It’s just like building a goat pen and not putting a door on it.
The interesting thing about God’s will is, God doesn’t latch a gate to force us to stay within the boundaries He sets for us. He gives us a choice.
Here are several of the boundaries, or walls, God intends for the Christian to live inside of (please notice, that I’m not offering any commentary on these verses – I’m just sharing the Word of God with you… in other words, if you get offended, you can’t get mad at me… it’s God’s law… I’m just sharing the verses):
- “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:30
- “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.” Ecclesiastes 5:4
- “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” Deuteronomy 22:5
- “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Luke 6:28
- “And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.” Luke 6:29
- “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17
- “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
- “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 1 Timothy 5:8
- “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10
- “Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” James 5:16
- “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commiteth adultery.” Matthew 5:32
- “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15
God places those boundaries, along with many others, in our lives to protect us. In essence, He said, “Here’s your goat pen. Stay in it and you’ll be safe from the adversary. Stay in it and you will be blessed. Stay in it and you will have nothing to fear. Stay put child!”
Then God leaves the gate open and says, “It’s up to you. Are you going to stay in the pen I created for you?”
Be careful not to leave your pen. The world is good at convincing people they can leave God’s will as long as they can properly justify it. You know…
“I know the Bible says that, but society has changed since the Bible was written.”
“I know the Bible says yada yada yada, but… [a lame excuse goes here]”
“God understands my situation is different.”
“Nobody lives that way anymore.”
No. Just because man changes, doesn’t mean God’s will changes.
Here’s the wonderful part. When those goats strayed away from their pen, they didn’t get hurt. When they followed us back to the place we had originally put them for their well-being, we locked them back up and they were once again safe in the fold.
If you have wandered away from God, He will gladly let you begin following Him again. He will receive you with open arms (that is, if you go to him before it’s too late and you get hit by a bus on the highways of life). God will lead you back into green pastures, but only if you choose to follow.
One last note – once you follow Him to green pastures, stay where he puts you. Never wander away again. The more times goats escape, the more likely they are to get hurt or killed. The same is true of the Christian’s spirituality.