I went for a walk the other day. The winding path followed the course of the creek and was lined by backyards on either side. Some houses were close to the path while others were quite far away. But the most interesting thing was that everyone seemed to believe something different about their back yard.
There were those that believed their backyard was really a storage room for stuff, mostly broken stuff!
In contrast some were ultra-manicured; beautiful walkways, fountains, trimmed bushes, flowers, and trees hanging over in just the right places. It was amazing to look at, but not to touch. The rod iron fence with spikes on the top proudly proclaimed a
I kept walking and quite suddenly came to a stop. I was astounded! In front of me was a backyard that was so
inviting. It had simple landscaping but showed evidence of being cared for with a bench or chair here and there. It was the one yard I wanted to stop and spend some time in. Why? Because, there was no fence. It was almost as if the owners had stated “Welcome, take a deep breath, enjoy”
Sometimes, as humans, we make an assumption that no one can see our back yard. We take our failures,
broken relationships, lost jobs, hidden sins and stuff them where we think no one cares… in our backyard. At the same
time we may spend all our effort, time and money on the front yard – the stuff we think matters. We don’t realize that
every once in a while, someone might want to take a walk into our whole world and get a glimpse of the “real” us. Shame
and guilt can cause us to stay locked up in the house with the beautiful front lawn and the overstuffed and forgotten back yard. We live a life in shadow.
Then at other times, we get obsessed with perfection. We care deeply about what everyone else sees… everywhere… all the time. When perfection rules we spend all our time keeping everything… perfect! It is a deceptive trap because we can believe
we are doing that for others. We want it to be beautiful and perfect for others to enjoy (in fact we believe that is the
only way others can enjoy us!) In Christ’s upside-down, backwards, kingdom of heaven kind-a-way, it is really narcissism at its best. Caring too much about oneself still leads to isolation. The fence is still in place, because; if we let someone in they might mess up my life or they might find something wrong. You can look but you can’t touch!
Maybe what Christ wants in our backyards is balance. “Take care of yourself” – “Don’t only mind your own needs but also the needs of others” all the way to “Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought.”
Working in God’s Kingdom is all about relationships. So I think he wants us to learn to live without fences. In an age of privacy fences and isolation masked in independence and self-reliance, it may be scary. But you can always start with a gate on your
fence and move towards a latch on the outside instead of the inside. Pretty soon you might notice the gate being
Who knows, a neighbor might drop in and help build your patio!
So you might be wondering why I enjoyed looking at everyone else’s backyards…. That’s another post!