Don’t Fence Me In :: by Grant Phillips

Some of you will recognize the above title from a western song of the mid-thirties. It has been made popular by Roy Rogers, Kate Smith, Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Autry, Eddy Arnold, Willie Nelson and others.

That being said, let’s just concentrate on the title, “Don’t Fence Me In” not as a song, but as a statement projected by rebellious mankind.

Have you ever noticed that animals that are fenced in often yearn to be freed from their fenced in area? Obviously this is so, or there would be no need for the fence.

Could this same desire also apply to human beings? I think it does. For example, anyone incarcerated in prison would certainly rather be free. Those who work for a living look forward to the end of the work day so they can go home. Young children will leave the safety of their own yard if they are not supervised. School children long for the last bell of the day which means it’s time to go home. So whether we are in a pleasant environment or an unpleasant environment, there is still that longing to be free to go where we choose and do what we like.

Some men feel fenced-in, or trapped if they have to go shopping with their wife. A woman may experience the same smothering feeling if confined to an all-day event of televised ball games.

Is it possible that we are all just striving to make that need for independence a reality in our lives?

Why do children, especially teenagers, go through a “rebellious” stage in their lives? They want to be independent. Some even want to “have their cake and eat it too” by being dependent on their parents for financial well-being, but independent in making their own decisions.

I think the bottom line is; whether we refer to animals or human beings, we all want to be free to do as we please. Unfortunately, that never works. Why? Because bad decisions often cause problems for those making the decisions for themselves, and for others affected by their decisions. That is why we have laws, rules and/or fences.

All humans are indwelt with a soul. Because of sin, that soul is always searching for satisfaction, thinking personal satisfaction can only come by our being free to “do our own thing.”

God sees it differently. Jesus said,

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

We are never actually free until we submit our independence to Jesus Christ and depend totally upon Him. Then we are no longer fenced in.

Apostasy has brought to our generation the idea of submitting some of our independence to Jesus but keeping some for ourselves. Remember the children I mentioned earlier who want the financial support of their parents but want to make their own decisions about everything else?

Many people today want to say, “I’m a Christian” but it’s my business if I choose to live with someone else, sexually, outside of marriage. “I’m a Christian” but it’s my body to do with as I please. “I’m a Christian” but it’s my business if I cheat, lie, or steal.

If you really are a Christian, these words are for you.

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

“Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:23)

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

If you are cattle fenced in a pasture, you are not your own. You belong to an owner, a master.

If you are a dog in a fenced in lot, you are not your own. You belong to an owner, a master.

If you really are a Christian, you are not your own. You belong to an Owner, a Master. However, the difference in this case is, whether you realize it or not, you are truly free.

When we live for self, we are a prisoner to sin and its originator, Satan. When we try to obey the Law to obtain righteousness, we are a prisoner to the Law. When we obey Christ, we are a faithful servant who is “free indeed.” We are His friend.

“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14)

As good parents would never give harmful instruction to their children, God certainly would never lead us astray. When we obey Him, we are free to enjoy life to its fullest, knowing that He would never ask of us anything that would harm us.

BUT … you say, don’t Christians suffer? Yes. And God’s response is:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

This world is not our home. We are fenced in and bound by Satan’s restrictions, but in Jesus the fence has been removed. We are free to follow Him wherever He leads us, no fences, and He is always with us.

In these earthly bodies, we think too much in earthly terms, and need to allow God to change our thought pattern to thinking in spiritual terms. We can’t always understand why some things happen to us, but if we just trust Him, everything will work out “to His purpose.”

The teenager may think his/her parents are being cruel by restraining them from one area and guiding them toward another, but they will understand when they get older. When we reach our full maturity in Heaven, we will understand and see all things in a different light.

If you feel fenced-in in your life and are not a Christian, you will never enjoy freedom until you come to know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Then you can enjoy true freedom.

If you are a Christian and have these feelings of being fenced-in, your Savior is waiting to be your Lord. Only when He is your Lord do you then experience true and everlasting freedom. No more fences, just joy in serving Him. As His child you were free all along, but when you submit “all” of your independence to Him and trust Him, you experience that freedom.

Until we are a servant, a bond-servant no less (the lowliest of servants), of Christ, we are not free. However, by our submitting our will to His, we are then free. This certainly sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. It’s Biblical. It’s the only way for the fences to be torn down and be truly free.