- Eric Rutherford
The Importance of Fences
I played outside this weekend with my son on our trampoline. We bounce and play tag and just hang out, which is quite fun. Bouncing around on the trampoline is tiring, so while lying down on the floor of the trampoline catching my breath, I looked up at the sky and enjoyed spotting birds and planes and clouds. My son does this too and points out all of the sites in the sky to me.
As I looked skyward, I noticed the edges of the net around the trampoline. Our trampoline sits about thirty inches off the ground. When you stand on the floor of the trampoline, there is a six or seven foot tall net running around the outside of it, which acts as a fence. The net is held in place by a cable on top of the net, which runs around four large metal poles that are anchored to the frame. The bottom of the net is tied to the floor in something like eighty places all around the trampoline–it is secure.
You enter and exit the trampoline by crawling through a zip up entrance at the bottom of the net on one side. You cannot fall off the trampoline because the net keeps you from doing so and you cannot bounce over the net because it is too high.
I know this to be true because as we bounce and play, frequently I am leaning into the net either to catch my breath or because I have lost my balance and bounced sideways. I am not worried about it though because I cannot fall off.
Laying on the trampoline this weekend, I remembered playing on a different trampoline in a different time and place. When I was thirteen years old, there were several of us at a friend’s house, and that house had a trampoline. I had never bounced on a trampoline before, but it did not take long to get the hang of it.
Now, as I am forty-five now, that event took place thirty-two years ago, and thirty-two years ago, we did not think about things, like nets running around trampolines. They may have existed, but I do not remember seeing them at that time, and that particular trampoline did not have one, though it was about the same height off the ground. That day we were playing a game on the trampoline, which was a cross between chicken and tag. Two people were on the trampoline and the goal was to bump the other person off their feet–no throwing, no hitting, just kind of pushing.
As I said, I was a thirteen year old boy, which means what I lacked in wisdom, I tried to make up for in enthusiasm. While I was bouncing, my opponent pushed me at just the wrong moment and instead of just falling on my seat, I bounced off the trampoline headfirst. I remember soaring through the air (soaring may be too generous of a description for bouncing off a trampoline, but it felt like soaring, so for our purposes here we will call it soaring) off the trampoline and diving toward the ground like one would dive into a pool. As I passed the edge of the trampoline, I reached out with both hands and grabbed the outer frame of the trampoline, flipping myself over so that I landed on my bottom and then my back. After I paused for a moment to realize I was okay, I got up and started playing again.
I thought about this while lying on the trampoline this weekend. I did not say it aloud, but I was thankful for the net keeping me on the trampoline. I could easily have been hurt when I was 13, and even after such a close call, I went back for more that day. I was very fortunate that my foolishness did not lead to my destruction.
The Bible and the Holy Spirit both work like a net in a Christ-followers life. They keep us from getting hurt and falling (or soaring) into places that will bring great harm to us and to others.
I have never regretted any time I have been obedient to God’s Word, but I have many regrets when I have disregarded it. He has given us His Word to guide us and protect us from harm. I do not mean that bad things will not happen to Christ followers because we live in a sinful, broken world. Jesus, Himself, allowed Himself to go through hardships and ultimately a brutal death at the hands of sinful men. He even told us that we will experience tribulations in this world, but that He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Here are two things we can do this week as we model following Christ for those with whom we interact, teach, or mentor.
First, do not purposefully disregard the biblical information you know, meaning if you know the Bible tells you to do something, then do it–do not ignore it. If it says to encourage one another, then make sure the words that you use build others up and do not tear them down. Ignoring what the Bible says would be like purposefully taking the net off our trampoline because I thought I knew better than the manufacturer or ignoring the white lines on the road as I drive because I am above such measly things as lanes. Bad things will happen if I do either.
Second, ask the Lord to give you the desire to be obedient to His Word. I know that may sound a little weird, but bear with me. We need to do this because we are sinners. Even if we have been saved (justified) through faith in Christ, we wrestle with our sinful nature. We need the Holy Spirit to work in us to desire to seek the Lord. Moreover, the Lord is faithful. When we ask Him for something according to His will, He is faithful to give it to us.
I will likely play on our trampoline again tomorrow with my son. We will zip open the door and climb through the net, zipping it up behind us, all the while thankful that it will protect us from soaring off and getting hurt.