The Boundary Lines

Psalm 16:6
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
Surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Your boundary lines mark out pleasant places for me.
Indeed, my inheritance is something beautiful

No, this isn’t a post about immigrants overwhelming our borders. Instead, it’s a very personal revelation. I have learned much about real boundaries in my journey with Christ these past eight years. The verse above has a commonly accepted meaning – about all things being well (GW); but I’ve found – I’ve experienced – a reading more desperate, though none the less hopeful (NIV).

In Step One of the Twelve Steps of ____ Anonymous, I “admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors.” At each meeting, I beg God for the strength to change what I so obviously can not fix on my own. After so many failed attempts, I know I can not be saved (from myself) without divine help.

But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness.
They do not know what makes them stumble.
Proverbs 4:19

This is the heart of recovery. Basically, it is discovering what leads me to self-destructive acts. Two-day hangovers. Driving blind drunk – with the kids in the car. Eating the whole box. Surfing. Smoking. Nothing I am proud of. Everything I’m ashamed of.

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
Shining ever brighter til the full light of day.

How I need healing and a reliable path to follow! This is what the Twelve Steps are. And one of the lessons taught early on is the setting of boundaries, like a series of electrified fences leading up to the cliff down which my siren song tempts me. My walls don’t keep me in, they keep me out – away from the things with which I harm myself.

Sometimes, it saddens me that these things are meant to be good.

Does it surprise you that all addictions start out as something God created to be pleasant? Being merry. A good meal. Delightful physical sensations. The thrill of a competition. And “isn’t fun the best thing to have?” All positive things, but all experiences the addict will seek to the exclusion of all else.

C.S. Lewis wrote a definition of addiction that has stuck with me. Paraphrased, it is, “taking the pleasures God has made to degrees, in ways, or at times which He never intended.” If you consider then, that the “pleasant places” in the NIV version of Psalm 16:6 are not destinations for me to look forward to, but forbidden zones I must avoid at all costs, you might be able to see how it can be depressing.

Take a look at the word “fallen”. Imagine that the fences which keep me from these things have collapsed to the ground. “The boundaries have fallen” and I have nothing between me and danger. A terrifying situation! I know what I’m capable of.

What is crazy is that I myself am the one constantly seeking to knock down or get around my fences. I rationalize that I’m different now. I debate whether I can safely walk into old areas. I convince myself that I know how to stop. No, not always.

But, “Surely I still have a delightful inheritance.” “Indeed,my inheritance is something beautiful.” To me, one of the most important tenets of Christian faith is God’s response to my constant failings. It’s no license for me to sin freely, no. But it is a promise to me that, despite the stumbles I will have, He continues to hold out that hope for me to hold on to. At meetings, we remind each other of this.

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