I recently read a story about a family that had an all too common problem with their dog—it wouldn’t stay in the yard. Rather than chain Fido to a tree, they opted for the modern high-tech solution and installed an invisible fence. A wire was buried in the yard and an electronic collar was placed around the dog’s neck. If the pooch got too close to the wire a warning tone went off. If he got way too close he received a light but effective shock.
The Shocking Reality
It didn’t take long for the dog to discover his limitations. Even with the promise of treats, he would not dare cross the line. He couldn’t see the barrier, but it was all too real for him. He had been trained to know exactly where he couldn’t go.
After a while it wasn’t even necessary to put the electronic collar on the dog. Even though the threat of punishment and pain was removed there was no way he was going to chance it. The invisible fence had moved from the external world of the family’s yard to the internal world of the dog’s mind.
It would be easy to laugh at the simple-minded beast if we didn’t see ourselves so clearly mirrored. How often are we held prisoner due to barriers that we perceive are holding us back? How many opportunities pass us by because we’re afraid to cross a line that isn’t really there?
I’m not good enough. I’m not talented enough. I’ve made too many mistakes. What if no one likes my suggestion? Every one of those roadblocks we put up is based on barriers that don’t exist. What makes them even sadder is that they don’t just limit ourselves—they limit our communities and our churches. They diminish what we can do together and the victories we can share.
Paralyzed with Fear
I’ve seen too many people held prisoner by fences that weren’t really there and I’ve seen too many churches suffer from their paralysis. It’s sad that one of the greatest weapons the devil has against Christians is their own fears.
So many of our self-limiting perceptions are addressed in just one chapter of the Bible, Ephesians 1.
- I’m not good enough – you are chosen by God (verse 4)
- I’ve made too many mistakes – he lavished his grace on you (verse 8)
- I’m not talented enough – he wants to use you according to his purpose and plan (verses 9 and 10)
Rather than see ourselves in our limitations and failures Paul prays that God, “may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you (Ephesians 1:17-18).”
Are your eyes open to the way that God sees you? What could happen if they were?
From Dogs to Lions
Check out my message on Ephesians 1, “Remember Who You Are.”