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Tuesday, November 11th 2008

12:32 AM

Stay Inside the Line ... or else!

Picture for a moment sitting in front of your TV to watch a sporting event. Let's go with baseball, the All-American pastime. The pitcher winds up ready to send a fastball over the plate and into the catcher's glove. Hopefully, the ball will hit that outside corner, making it harder for the batter to connect.

Suddenly, though, in the the middle of his wind up, the pitcher stops and waltzes up and stands about five feet from the plate. To everyone's astonishment, he tosses an underhand pitch to the already shocked batter.

The crowd is going wild. What is going on? This isn't the right way to play baseball.

Then the batter slugs the ball out, out, out, and up, up, up, right over the centerfield fence into the stands. But something else out of the ordinary happens, the centerfielder climbs the fence and grabs the ball right out of a spectator's hands. He waves it in the air and the umpire yells, "He's out!"

Sounds like a bad dream for any halfway sane baseball fan. What happened to the rules?

We can all agree that in sports that there are rules or guidelines that keep the game running smoothly and that actually make it fun to play and watch. When a player steps over the line (say in the batting box) there is a consequence. There simply are things a player cannot do. Had a pitcher actually thrown an underhand pitch, you better believe his coach would have been pulling him off the mound faster than you can say fast.

As we can see, in this case, the rules were established to keep things in some type of control and make the game fun, competetive, and safe. And orderly.

So it is in life. God has established certain guidelines for living. There are lines that we are better off not crossing. If we live by a swamp filled with crocodiles, we will certainly set protective boundaries separating our property from the danger. We will instruct our children to stay on our side of the fence and away from the jaws of danger. Crossing into the swamp could result in utter devastation.

However, everyday, we as Christians try to find ways around the guidelines God has set for us. He didn't give us boundaries to halt our fun, but rather to protect our hearts. He wants to keep His children safe from physical, emotional, and spiritual harm. When we choose to do things our own way and venture away from his protective covering, we put ourselves in dangerous situations.

I was watching a toddler this weekend at church. His mom sat at one end of the row and his father at the other. He had a whole row of chairs to sit on and he could move freely in the space they'd provided. I bet you see where this is going, huh? After awhile, this little guy wanted out. The limits felt too confining for his busy body and curious mind.

Patiently, his parents guided him, sometimes by gently moving him, back to safety. At one point, he attempted to climb the seat in front of him and almost pulled the chair on his head. Dad once again, rescued him. This little boy wasn't being confined to cause him misery, rather, he was being surrounded by love.

I'm guilty, too, at times, of trying to stretch the line, climb over the chair, and do things my way. Sometimes I fail to recognize that God's Way, ultimately, is the best way. He can see things we can't. He has seen the results of "crossing the line" since the beginning of time when Eve decided she had to reach out and take the only fruit he'd asked her to avoid. She had free reign of EVERYTHING but that little ole tree. For Eve, it wasn't enough.

Friends, the world tells us that "anything goes." If it feels good -- do it. In fact, many people believe that each person can make his or her own rules. Set your own limits, or none at all. After all, it's all about me, me, me.

We, as believers, don't belong to this world. We belong to the King of Kings. He gives us a hope and future, and a ton of other blessings if we choose to stay within the lines He's drawn for us. Our King knows that we will still wander on occaision. Thankfully, Jesus gave us the gift of forgiveness.

If you're outside the parameters of God's best, get back in here! God will welcome you with open arms.

My, oh my, I needed that reminder. I hope that this post helped you, too.

JUST REMEMBER: The grass may seem greener on the other side, but, truthfully, God's grass is always the best and it will even give our souls rest. (Sorry, couldn't help the rhyme)

God bless you.

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