Last Friday was International Mud Day. I have never heard of it before but my wife learned about it on the internet, so it must be true. And given that Robin is fun-loving schoolteacher she set-up an event to celebrate it. For two hours there were 6 kids ages 3 through 6 running around in the backyard, engaged in various activities, nearly all of them making liberal use of mud.
Each child was given a bucket of dirt and access to a hose. They danced in mud, made mud cakes, threw mud at each other and wiped their muddy hands on their clothes, and then on each other’s clothes. When the muddy children needed a break they rested while eating popsicles and drinking lemonade. They went through a lot of popsicles and lemonade!
When I got home from work and Robin was filling me in on the details she said that here was one particular activity that the boys present were absolutely enthralled by. On the property where we are living there is a pick-up truck that hasn’t moved for a number of years. It has sat so long that the wheels have sunk into the ground nearly to the axles.
Robin picked up a handful of mud and chucked it at the truck. The boys were dumbstruck! They didn’t quite understand what was being made available to them, so she told them clearly, “Throw mud at the truck! As much mud as you want to!” And they did so, with great enthusiasm. They spattered the truck from front to back, on all sides.
While there were some boundaries to the Mud Day celebration, such as no throwing mud at the moms or the house, something that they had assumed to out-of-bounds as a target for their mess-making, a parked truck, was actually in-bounds. And they took great delight in this knowledge. In our human nature we sometimes push back at boundaries as being restrictive to the things that we want to do. But as the children learned, there can also be great delight while staying within the boundaries.
One of the things we learn as we follow Jesus is that God has set boundaries for our lives, something the Psalmist makes clear in the writing of Psalm 16, particularly verse 6, which in the NIV reads:
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
The ways in which God makes known his boundaries for us varies. Some of them are very clear, such as in the Ten Commandments. Others take a bit more discernment to determine, calling us to prayerfully consider the words of Scripture and apply them to the circumstances we are in. An example would be in the words of Galatians 6: 16-24. Paul lists a number of things that are clearly outside of God’s boundaries on our behavior and then follows it with a short list of characteristics that describe what is found within his will. If what we are considering is in agreement with those characteristics then we can be assured that we are living within God’s boundaries.
God’s boundaries are not meant to oppress us, but to give us freedom. Psalm 16:9-11 closes with this confident assurance of the joy to be found living within God’s boundaries:
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Like the children throwing mud at the truck, may you know great delight living within the boundaries God has established on your life. He delights in our joy, and our delight in him makes his glory known to the world.