A family goes on holiday to Thailand in 2004. They spend their Christmas there in a resort situated upon the sands where the ocean’s boundaries lay. Within these boundaries they enjoy the pool, the magnificent resort rooms and restaurants. However, their holiday quickly turns horrid when a tsunami 33 feet high hits this little resort and wreaks havoc of the entire vacation oasis. Many people drown; over 200,000 people die horrible deaths in ways difficult to speak of. This one family survives to tell their story in the movie, “The Impossible.” What they survive changes their whole life from the core of their heart.
I wonder if the resort had been built farther inland, if this tragedy would have resulted in fewer losses. While watching the movie, I was reminded of the scripture, “You (God) set the boundary they cannot cross…” (Psalm 104:9). The word “they” speaks to the waters that God created. He gave the waters a boundary; this boundary was their limit in how far they could go on the earth. But within this boundary, they could flow freely and openly even in the midst of underwater earthquakes or other natural phenomenon. So, the questions are: Was this tragedy God’s fault? Was it creation’s heartless act? or Was it man’s insistence to push the boundaries set by God, the Creator? Again, I pondered the question during the showing of this movie, “Why would anyone build a resort so close to the sea?” I guess we could ask this question about many resorts. My aim in this blog is not to judge whether the owners of this resort should have built so close to the waters or not, but this story does give a good illustration of how often people push the boundaries that God has set in their life.
We see God’s boundary lines all throughout scripture. In creation, we see God setting the boundaries and functions of what he has made; he also divided the land between the tribes of Israel; he created the law which has given limits and guidance to the way man should live; he made the distinction of light and darkness and the destiny of those who believe in Christ vs. following the prince of this world. There are many more boundaries that God has set in finances, relationships, honor of authority, etc. God is boundary driven for our good. But people are always pushing the boundaries, amen? And when we push the boundaries, we can expect tragedy and trouble as a result.
People push the boundaries of God in three ways (there may be more, but I’m going to point out three):
- Pride: People often will make choices based on their own self-glory. A person chooses what he does for reasons that promote his agenda. A wise saying from scripture points out “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Crossing God’s boundaries brings forth destruction, whether it’s in natural phenomenon or in human experiences. The core root of pride is “…the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4). When we make no room for His word (his boundaries), we will take ourselves to the cliff and hang on it by a mere branch – it’s human nature. We think “I can do this…” Suddenly, stress evolves and we begin to make…
- Excuses: We live in a world of overworked, under-rested, and stressed out human beings…busy…busy…busy. This lifestyle begins the cycle of making excuses for sin that rationalize the pushing off of God’s boundaries in our life. In these excuses Jesus is ignored. Jesus represents the final boundary that we must adhere to in order to be freed from our sin; sadly, too many people put Jesus off just like the parable he told about the guests invited to a banquet. One by one each ignored the invitation to the banquet by making one excuse after another, “I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me…I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me…I just got married, so I can’t come.” (Luke 14:18-20). The excuses (whether good or bad) we make push us beyond the limits made by God, and before you know it, we are headed for spiritual ruin in the form of…
- Temptation: In a state of pride and making excuses, we stumble upon the T-word. We are smack in the middle of temptation. Without the boundaries of God in our life, we will fall! I say that again, we will fall! “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13). God is the one who gives us the boundaries that protect us from temptation. His word (boundary) in our heart helps us to not sin. Each person is tempted when his own pride and excuses trump God’s boundaries; he is dragged away; his desire conceives, gives birth to sin and eventually birth to death. (James 1:15). God does not want us to be deceived. Deception leads to temptation in which ultimately leads to destruction. Once we sin we begin to look back and say, “If I only…”
While sin looks beautiful and going beyond the boundaries set by God can initially feel exhilarating…this only leads to ruin. However, “…every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:17). Every gift from heaven is a boundary from God. His boundaries are good…they are not shifting shadows that deceive like the shadows of pride, excuses and temptations. Don’t get hit with the tsunami of sin resulting from pushing the boundaries – go inland – and bypass the tragic experiences that will wreck you.
If God says hide his word in your heart so you won’t sin against him, do it. If he tells you to not act upon sexual immorality, then do it. If he says do not covet for if you do, you will indeed be over your head in debt, then don’t covet. If he tells you to forgive, then forgive so you are forgiven. Bottom line, remember that God’s boundaries are for your good – stay within them – be blessed – and live.
“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Psalm 119:34-37; Psalm 16:6).