Pleasant boundaries

This may sound corny, but I’m happy with my lot in life.

Certainly there are moments when I wish things were different,  usually when I am feeling unhappy in general and wanting something to blame it on. Then there are the times when some aspect of my life is completely out of whack and I take measures to sort it out. Simply looking back at the last ten years I am amazed at what changes my wife and I have made – we have come a long way, and there is plenty of change yet to happen I’m sure. So how then can I make the fatalistic-sounding comment that I am ‘happy with my lot in life’? Because of  Psalm 16:

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 ESV)

The ‘lines’ referred to here are the boundary lines of the psalmist’s family inheritance. He is effectively saying that God is the One who has assigned his place in life and he is delighted with the plot of land God has given his family to inherit through the generations. This is easier to see in the old NIV translation:

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance
(Psalm 16:5-6 NIV 1984)

I do not have a family plot of land allotted by God, but I do have a body that I inhabit and a life to live which have all been given by God and the boundaries of this life of mine are set by God. In some respects those boundaries are a bit limiting (isn’t that what boundaries do – limit the extent of something?): I am of average intelligence – not overly bright, not completely stupid; I’m short; I read slowly (and think and write slowly); I have a modest income; have no sporting ability (or interest in acquiring any); in short, just very ordinary.

Fortunately, through a variety of means over the years, God has made my limitations (boundary lines) clear to me – perhaps this is one of the benefits of getting older. As I have become aware of my own limitations (such as needing to sleep) I have actually become more content and also more likely to trust God. Paul comments on this in  Romans 12:3-8, we are not to envy the abilities of others but to use what we have been given. The ancient equivalent was the boundary stones marking the inheritance of each family, God explicitly told the Israelites not to move those boundaries:

You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.
(Deuteronomy 19:14 ESV)

To shift the boundary markers is to steal from a neighbour, and to be dissatisfied with God’s allotment. When it comes to what God has allotted me in life I can rejoice in all I have been given because it is not too great for me to live up to. If I try to steal more than my allotment I will not be able to keep it cultivated, weeds will grow and everyone will lose.

2 thoughts on “Pleasant boundaries

  1. Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for your kind comment. Sleep is wonderful and we have so little control over it, definitely a gift from God!


Comments are closed.