Culture, Faith

Boundaries: When We Play God

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I’m sure our city officials had a good reason for changing the way red lights and turning arrows operate here. Where once yellow arrows for left-hand turns gave drivers extra time to turn, now arrows turn to red . . . and drivers know they’ll be waiting instead.

In a world where everyone is in a big, fat hurry, a red light can be a major frustration. I’ve watched cars fly through the intersection once that turn arrow flips to red. They don’t want to wait another two-three minutes for a chance to speed on their way.

I admit, I’ve found alternate ways to get through those intersections. I think they’re legal.

I’ve also noticed more accidents on busy streets near our house. I’m not saying there is a direct correlation between the change in the turn arrow and the accidents, but I do wonder . . .

After a blogging friend shared a story about red lights, it got me thinking about our culture. For years, we have sped along, running through the warning lights God placed on our path.

Things once considered wrong are now accepted. Behaviors once disciplined are now ignored.

Television shows.

Radio commentaries.

Books.

Movies.

Social Media.

All of these reflect examples of how we, as a culture, have run the red.

People have busted past boundaries once considered sacred and right.

God places red lights because He cares for us. He has told us some things are wrong, because He knows they will decimate our spirits, much like one car blasting into another when it doesn’t heed the red.

When we ignore the warnings God gives us, we’re saying a few things . . .

We don’t place value on what God says is true.

We are god of our own lives. We know better than the One who created us.

We don’t care about our spirits. We want what we want, when we want it. Because that’s all there is to it.

When we live our lives as though we are God, we end up wounded—physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. When we ignore the warnings God gives us, we reject His love for us.

The Lord doesn’t place red lights in our lives because He wants to make our lives hard. He puts them there so we can stop and think before rejecting Him. Which will lead to a harder life.

God loves us. He knows what will injure us if we run into them. God’s red lights are protection for us. We need to stop. 

To reflect.

God knows the enemy who aims to destroy us. The enemy of our souls switches red lights to green in our thoughts. Through temptations, arguments, through the external influencers in our culture.

God will never force us to do things His way. That’s not how He rolls. He wants us to choose Him. To want relationship with Him.

As Creator of the universe, He also knows the rules and boundaries, and He will uphold the standards.

When we stop at the red lights in our days, our thoughts, our hearts . . .

When we consider the decisions we’re about to make…

we have the opportunity to turn toward Him.

God honors obedience. He turns His face to those who seek Him. And the fellowship is intimate.

The question is, are we going to stop at the red lights He places in our lives, or are we going to ignore them in pursuit of something lesser?

What about you? What boundaries has God placed in your life that have enabled you to have a deeper relationship with Him? How do you talk to those around you about God’s ways?

Click to Tweet: God doesn’t place red lights in our lives because He wants to make our lives hard

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth

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28 thoughts on “Boundaries: When We Play God”

  1. I remember a bridge over the Nile in Cairo…there was a large arrow painted in one lane, and a few feet further one, another large arrow in the same lane, pointing in the opposite direction. It SO summed up Cairene trafic, which is probably why I felt so at home there.

    Red lights…I get several now. There are times…like, every day…that I would give almost anything for morphia, or some powerful opioid. The pain’s that bad. But I know that it will make the situation worse, what with some side-effects and PTSD. Same goes for medical marijuana, which is legal in New Mexico. My doctor urged me to try, but there is a huge warning in my head, saying, ‘not on your life’.

    It’s better to just accept the pain. Once one realizes that pain doesn’t really MATTER, that one still has the same 24 hours in a day, it somehow becomes less of an issue.

    Or maybe I’m just being Cleopatra, Queen of de Nile…

    Ah, Egypt, time to stop, as this is where I came in!

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    1. As I read the beginning of your comment, Andrew, it brought to mind Istanbul. Where the biggest vehicle won the rights to whatever lane they wanted. Traveling in a taxi one night showed me just how important it was to know your place on the road. And in the Philippines, to see that red lights were a decoration on the road, rather than an instruction and warning to stop? Yeah, not sure I could drive there. 😉

      That said, I appreciate your thoughts, and the reminder to heed the red lights in our lives. When we know what’s good for us and we heed that? We function better/from a better place.

      I appreciate your perspective, my friend. And something tells me you are not living as the Queen of deNile. 😉

      Praying for you and Barb.

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  2. This is a great reflection of today’s culture…but I guess its nothing new. Mankind has always challenged or ignored rules to suit our personal wants. I just thank God that I’m comfortable knowing that I haven’t been given permission to change the Word of God. Accepting His supremacy brings me peace.

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    1. Gene, so true. Mankind has always ignored rules to have what we want. I couldn’t agree more. Knowing God’s word is not to be changed and yielding to His authority is the best way to find peace. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

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  3. This is a great post, Jeanne! There’s a road near me where the speed limit was reduced a while ago and whenever I drive it, trying to keep to the speed limit, there is usually a car right up behind me, getting impatient and wanting to go faster. I hadn’t thought before about how this can reflect our attitude to God- wanting to make our own rules and ignoring boundaries, instead of thinking that they have been set up for good reasons and for our protection.

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    1. Lesley, we have roads in town that people FLY down (I admit, I’m guilty of this too). The speed limit isn’t ridiculously slow, but we are all about getting where we want to go as fast as we can, aren’t we? I’ve been working to drive the speed limit on some of those roads. And yes, there are those, who ride my tail to urge me to drive faster.

      May we both be intentional about trusting God’s rules and living by them.

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  4. This is a wonderful analogy, Jeanne … one that will make perfect sense to the newly licensed driver in my home. 🙂 I’m always trying to think of new ways to help my girls take the long view of life and choices, and your wise words here will definitely help with that. Hugs, friend!

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    1. It’s always fun to find something to share with our kids that is pertinent to where they are in life, isn’t it? I love how intentional you are about helping your girls to take the long view in life. It can be challenging to find those ways, and (for me, at least) to wait for those moments when I can share those ways with our boys. Sending you hugs back, friend!

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  5. I know about those red lights. I remember times when the light was yellow and just beginning to turn red. If I was partially through the intersection, I continued on. when my sons got older and were more aware of the rules of the road, I needed to heed the caution and stop lights more in order to teach my sons well.

    I wonder if we do that in our lives in regards to the red lights God throws our way. Do we go through seasons where it doesn’t seem to matter and then one day, we see others watching us os we change our ways? If red lights are for our protection, why do so many people think so little of them??? Very thought provoking. Thank you Jeanne!

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    1. Mary, having two boys who will be of driving age soon, I’ve been thinking through decisions I make while driving. WE’ve had he red light talk, usually after I’ve felt frustrated by yet another person who put themselves and others at risk by running the red. But, there are other things I am thinking through as I explain things to our boys regarding the rules fo the road.

      I hadn’t thought so much about the reality that others watch what we do and how we live. May we live in a way that reveals God’s presence and goodness in our lives so that they will want to know God. So that they will see His hand of protection over our lives.

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  6. The Cult of Me is definitely the biggest one out there, isn’t it? Even Christians are susceptible to its lure. The next time I see a red light (I actually don’t see them often because I don’t go into town much), I’ll take a moment to reflect on whether I’m rushing around doing MY will, or asking God what HIS will is.

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  7. I love this insightful analogy, Jeanne. We need these reminders in our hurry-up and anything-goes culture. Thank you so much for this thought-provoking post. I especially love how God’s red lights are protection for us. Love and hugs to you!

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  8. Great analogy. It took me yeas to realize that God rules are rules of love. For our protection and good. We tend to view rules as bad, but they are really good things. As a parent I have rules to keep my child safe and get along in life. God is the same. Those red lights are trying to teach us something.

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    1. Theresa, it took me a long time to realize God’s intentions with the rules He has established. I have been thinking a lot about our rules for our boys as they walk out the teen years. We want to help our kids be prepared for life, don’t we? And keeping them safe. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Jeanne,
    Such great analogies here. I can’t count how many times I’ve blown through red flags, reddish lights. I used to tell my kids it was like coloring…God gives us all this space to color in but says, “Don’t color outside the lines (boundaries).” He does this not to ruin our fun, but because He loves us and knows what’s best for us. He gives us boundaries and asks for our obedience because He wants the very best for us. This is a HARD message to get out into this world today!! Great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, I’ve blown through some of those warning markers too. I love the analogy of coloring inside vs outside the lines. It’s easier to heed the warnings when we remember they are given out of God’s love for us. May we both seek to be obedient to Him in all things. I’m so thankful for your comments!

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  10. Soooooo good. Man, that’s why I love God so much. He gives us these boundaries but the freedom to go past them. I can’t tell you how many times I have done that. However, as I experienced the pain that comes with that, I no longer want to break those boundaries He has set up. My wife and I know that first hand with our finances. We never NEVER want to go into debt again. It practically broke us. We desire to focus more on saving and giving to others than we ever have. Nothing that anything we buy can replace that. Great article. Very true. If only, many would learn from running the red light!

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    1. Nate, I bet we’ve all gone past those boundaries. But God, because He’s a loving parent, allows us to. Sometimes, the only way we learn is through the results of messing up, right? And, as you’ve testified, sometimes it’s those biggest lessons that burrow the deepest into our hearts. Thank you for your words here!

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  11. Those red lights are protection! I know I can get caught in the rationality that others seem to be thriving in a lifestyle way that may not have God’s green light, so maybe I’m in the wrong lane? It is tough with our image driven culture to accept the red light boundary God places when we see others are working a way through them or not regarding them at all. To stay steadfast, seeking God’s way ultimately brings the inner peace we all crave though, doesn’t it?

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    1. Lynn, when I read your comment, I thought about Psalm 73 that talks about how it appears the wicked are thriving. And then the psalmist says, “…and then I saw their end….” That’s always a reality check to me.

      You’re so right. When we are steadfast and seeking God’s way, we will find that peace in the process. Thank you for sharing your perspective here!

      Liked by 1 person

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