South of Troy on the Troy-Scott Road, is a farm that has sheep. I love to watch sheep. Little lambs are so cuddly and fun. They run and jump and enjoy life. The older sheep stand back and watch the little ones. I often think that it looks like a playground. The kids playing. The adults watching. And most of the time, the adults just watch. They don't join in. Why not? Why don't we join the children in sliding down the slide or climbing up the ladder? Why don't we play tag around the big old tree? Adults just don't. Neither do the adult sheep.
But that isn't what I was thinking about as I drove by the sheep. It was early in the day, mid-morning, on the way to teacher's conference. (The committee did a great job with the conference. Thanks! Carol Aebel was on the committee. We are proud of you Carol.)
So there I was driving to the conference, past the sheep farm, and saw something that made me think.
There were the sheep, standing at the fence, stretching their necks through the fence, reaching as far as they could to get that tasty piece of grass on the other side of the fence. It wasn't just one sheep, but several of them. And they were pushing against the fence, stretching their necks, reaching as far as they could. (And I remembered the Lueking farm in Hoffman, and the way their sheep always seemed to find a way out of the fence. How many mornings was it that we drove past only to see one or more sheep wandering outside the fence?)
And I thought, "Those sheep must curse that fence." They must think to themselves, "If only we didn't have this fence, we could get that grass out there that looks so green, fresh and tender. Why did this stupid farmer have to put up this fence? He is limiting our lives. He is not letting us have the good things in life." If only the fence wasn't there, they could have the grass they wanted without the pains of stretching their necks, getting their fleece caught on the fence and pulled out. What a terrible farmer he really must be.
Really? Is he that bad of a farmer? The sheep were safe inside their fence. There was plenty of grass. Plenty of water (a pond). They were safe from the coyote and the fox. They were kept safe from wandering out on the busy road. He watched out for them. The problem wasn't the fence, it was the desire of the sheep to have that which they couldn't have. The farmer was doing that which was best for them. While they cursed the fence, it was that very fence that kept them from many more problems in their lives - many of which were life threatening.
How often have you stretched your neck your the fence to get that which is on the other side? When was the last time that you desired that which was just out of your reach? And you did whatever you could to get it? The coveting, the desire to have something that wasn't yours, that you really shouldn't have at all. Stretching through the fence - the man begins to lust after a woman who is not his wife, the woman begins to desire the younger man that isn't hers to have, the worker desires more money and takes what is not his, the tax person hedges the tax return a little to get a little more money, and the list of stretching is limited only by the number of people who are reading this blog.
God puts a fence up and we curse it. That dreaded Law. It stops us from having what we desire, from getting that succulent piece of something on the other side. Why did God stop us? He is mean. He is unloving. I want and can't have it. Wait, I will find a way to slip through the fence. I will find a way to escape His unloving restriction on my life. And so, the coveting leads us to action.
And action leads to - pain and suffering. Maybe not immediately but in the long term. The wife is destroyed to find her husband looking at porn on the computer. The young man is crushed as he spends the night in jail after drinking too much, getting pulled over and arrested. The woman is fired from her job that she desperately needs to pay the bills, only because she is caught doing that which she shouldn't be. The list goes on. Sheep stretching through the fence, tearing a hole in it, to fulfill the desires of the heart, sure that God is keeping them from something wonderful.
The outcome is always not what we expect. The divorce tears apart lives, man, woman and children. Counseling, anger, hatred, lack of trust, fear of commitment, a life alone and a future that is empty. Why? Because of that piece of grass outside the fence that we just had to have. bills unpaid, house foreclosed, no food on table, care breaking down, unable to go on. Why? Loss of job because of that one piece of grass that was on the other side of the fence that we think that we just have to have.
What are you stretching through the fence for? Is it really worth it? Where will it lead you? Are you cursing God for the fence? Or are you praising His name for that wonderful fence that protects you from the myriad of painful events that could happen because of that one piece of grass? Stretching through the fence? Why?