Good Fences

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed with me with the food that is my portion.

Early one morning this passage made me pause. “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed with me with the food that is my portion.”

“Feed me with the food that is my portion.”

I dug deeper into the meaning of “portion” as it is used here. The definition surprised me.

Statute, ordinance, limit, something prescribed, due. Prescribed task, prescribed portion, action prescribed for oneself, resolve; prescribed due; prescribed limit, boundary; enactment, decree, ordinance (specific decree, law in general); enactments, statutes (conditions, enactments, decrees, civil enactments prescribed by God.

Limit. Boundary. Statute. Something prescribed. Something set forth. Something defined from outside of my authority. A boundary a line specifically set for me.

Sometimes my boundary line and limit is nearer for me than it is for others. Sometimes it is farther. We are each bound by a different measure.

That idea isn’t radical. It is true everywhere you look. Just think about the purpose and appropriate uses of different tools or types of clothing. They have different jobs and must be handled accordingly.

A champion racehorse is terrible at providing milk for the family breakfast table. A milking cow does a lousy job of winning the horse races. For each, as they are differently made and have different purposes and futures, the opportunities and the limits are in different places.

When I stumble into the rut of comparison, of measuring myself against others—whether favorable to me or unfavorable—then I am playing a foolish game, because God has prescribed different for each of us.

Only he knows best what is for me, so it behooves me then to live closely, listen carefully, and to obey swiftly in those areas prescribed for me.

Often, I try to push. I push back at those boundaries that seem too close. I grate against the standards that seem too harsh. As I try to expand my boundaries to better match where I see others are, then I’m actually missing the chance for greater freedom. By trying to press into areas that are not my portion, I’m missing a chance to thrive in domains where only I can thrive, and others may not.

Limits and boundaries. We often think of them as bad. Restrictive. Unfair.

Yet the boundaries that God establishes for each of us are liberating and clarifying. Like the limits guiding drivers on a shared road, they keep us safe and get us where we are supposed to go.

Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash