I spoke to my son today about a circle, a very significant circle – perhaps the most significant circle. And I drew one for him on a piece of paper. “Inside the circle, here,” I said as I pointed, “is where it’s safe for us. That’s where we need to stay, wouldn’t you say – in the safe place?” I asked him.
“You see, if we go outside the circle, there’s no protection.”
My son had always been fascinated by knights and castles, so I don’t think it was hard for him to imagine the risk that could be involved with leaving the protection of a fortress, knowing that there were deadly enemies outside of those walls.
“It’s our choice, of course.” His brown eyes looked into mine, pondering in his own young manner the ramifications of choice.
Then I wrote the word ‘obedience’ inside the circle.
“God covers us with a protective canopy, son - if we are obedient to Him. If we choose to not obey Him, we go out from under that canopy. We’re not covered.”
I wrote the word ‘protected’ beneath ‘obedience’; and, then outside the circle, I wrote ‘exposed’, and the word ‘disobedience’.
I reminded him of the words long ago of the great leader Moses, when he wanted to share with the people he loved, just before he died, one last message. He must surely have thought, “Of everything I could possibly say to them, what is the most important? I need to really put it in a nutshell, so that they’ll have no question about what is essential, and always be able to remember it.” And this was how he said it, “ Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; the blessing, if you obey the Lord your God…, and the curse, if you will not obey… I call heaven and earth to witness this day…that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” (Deut.11:26-8 and 30:19)
My son was taking it in. I looked into his dear face, and told him that I could imagine not only the good man Moses, but behind him, the very heart of our Father God, pleading with them with great passion, “Please, beloved ones, please, CHOOSE LIFE - choose to obey Me! Believe that I have your best interest in mind, and choose to trust Me!”
“You see, son, it is the nature of our God’s heart to want to protect us. But because His love for us gave us each the gift of free will, we can choose to not obey Him, if that’s the way we really want to go – to go our own way, independent of Him, our Creator; however, in doing so we choose to leave His protection. If we choose to go outside of the circle, we’re on our own. He doesn’t make the choice, we do!
My son had been lying down near me on the sofa. He sat up again to look at the circle.
“This circle is appointed,’ I continued. “What I mean by ‘appointed’ is that, whether we believe in it or not, it still exists. The circle is real, the lines are drawn in the lives of every human being, and what the circle means and stands for cannot be just erased. Can’t press a ‘delete’ button!
My computer-savvy son chuckled.
“Remember that kind of old-fashioned sounding word, ‘transgression’?” I asked him. “Nowadays, we’d call it ‘breaking the law’. Do you know at its roots what the word ‘transgress’ means? It means ‘to go out of bounds’.”
I knew that since he was a basketball player, my son could picture that, and that he knew there were consequences to going out of bounds.
“The Book says that it’s our transgressions that separate us from God. (Isa.59:2) In other words, it’s our choosing to go out of bounds, over the line that He’s drawn, that causes a separation between us and God. He doesn’t leave us; we leave Him. We go outside of His appointed circle, we leave the place where He can bless us, enfold us, protect us. The lines aren’t to imprison us; they’re really to free us! They free us to be able to safely play this game called Life.”
I paused, knowing that all this was a lot to absorb. I put my arm around my son’s shoulders.