Our church has a ministry called Candies Creek Academy. CCA is a Pre-K through 12th grade school. Our children at church and the school have been pretty much “free range” on our playground since its creation. Now that we are applying for a license for Pre-K children to attend the school, we are required to install a fence around the areas that our 3-4 yr old children will be playing and/or eating. Hence, this lovely fence around a portion of our playground.
Weather permitting, our nursery age children at church love to go outside on Sunday mornings! And I praise the Lord for our stunning and spacious playground area. Our playground is nestled on two sides by the fences of a cow pasture, one side a small access road to the cemetery and the other side our Worship Center. We have lush grass, beautiful old and young trees, a pavilion for church fellowship and family functions and state of the art playground equipment. Its really a lovely place to spend time. And as a bonus we are literally in the country; including the bugs, wildlife and smells that go with that privilege.
But when our “free range” preschoolers hit the playground…its a little nerve racking! There are no boundaries! They could hit the road to the cemetery, climb under the fence to the pet the cows, or head for the air conditioning units by the Worship Center. Now granted, we have incredible nursery volunteers, and most kids take off running TO the play sets. BUT there are always what we refer to as “RUNNERS”.
If you have ever worked with preschoolers you know there is always a little soul who sees the open air as a release from prison and off they go towards freedom. Preschoolers do not sense danger or have situational awareness AT ALL. They don’t look both ways, they don’t see what’s wrong with climbing in with some pretty cows and they don’t see air conditioner units as an electrical hazard. They just want to explore. It is our responsibility to see that they are trained and supervised while exploring. While watching little ones, there will always come a moment when your attention is focused on a child coming down the slide for the first time, while simultaneously the “RUNNER” takes off beyond the wide blue yonder at speeds competitive enough for Olympic time trials. Again, the reason we have a fence!
Our fence has two gates, its not a cage. Our fence is chain-link, so they are not enclosed behind a wall. Our fence is “boundary lines that have fallen in pleasant places.”
Our fence is going to provide some much needed protection and even more freedom for the preschoolers, they just need more concrete boundaries than the older children on the playground. But as they listen and respond to training and grow they will be given more freedoms and more space.
Isn’t that how the Lord gradually acclimates us to the world around us? He gives us boundaries as a young believer for our protection and so we can safely grow and learn more about the Christian life. Then as He trains us and loves us, He sees when we are ready to move out of one boundary area and go into a larger area. As we mature, our freedoms and responsibility also expand. Are you finding in your life the boundary lines God has drawn as pleasant? Or are you frustrated and pushing against the gate? Why don’t you go to the Lord and see why you are feeling “fenced in”. Are you by nature a “RUNNER”, if so God’s boundaries can be the most glorious thing.
I am loving our fence. For all the beautiful symbolism of it and the practical purposes it also serves.
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6