“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”
This phrase from Psalm 16 is one that I have been repeating to myself over and over again this
semester. It is so easy for us to get caught up in a cycle of convincing ourselves that we’re not
doing enough, that we should be giving more, succeeding at more things, and that we have to
be perfect at everything. There are a lot of phrases going around out there like “be who you
want to be” or “you can do anything you want with your life” that I think fuel a lot of anxiety when we are each so uniquely gifted to do such different things. God is absolutely capable of doing anything in our lives, but I also believe that each of us has been given unique talents and
abilities to serve the Kingdom (1 Peter 4:10-11). Each of us who know God and who want to
faithfully serve Him need to learn to recognize where are gifts are and how we can step into
them in specific ways.
There’s a concept in child psychology that when you put kids in a backyard and fence it in that
they will play within the entire space of the fenced backyard, but if you don’t fence it in, then
they will just huddle in the middle. It’s this idea that when given clear boundaries, children are
free to fully utilize and engage with the space given to them, but without clear lines drawn, they
won’t explore as much as they would have otherwise (even with more space available).
Every day, at least in my life, I know I can become so overwhelmed in trying to decide what to
say yes and no to and how to commit and invest the time I have well. I wholeheartedly believe
that in order to have a genuine impact and make wise choices, we have to recognize and set
limits for ourselves.
Looking to Psalm 16:6, there’s a line that goes, “the boundary lines have fallen for me in
pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” God has laid out boundary lines for
each of us and when we allow ourselves to recognize what we are not capable of doing, we
allow God to use us in all the ways he has equipped us for. We can’t go everywhere. We can’t
be perfect at everything. But in setting limits, we are free to step into the places where we can
do productive work.
In order to this, we also have to rest in the fact that regardless of our failures or inabilities, we
are fully loved and accepted by the Father and incapable of losing that identity. I love the story
of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3 where after Jesus was baptized, a Spirit of God descended like
a dove and rested on him and “behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with
whom I am well pleased’’ (Matt 3:17). How incredible that these words were spoken over the
identity of Jesus before he ever did a single miracle or accomplished anything in his ministry
and how amazing that we, as coheirs with Christ, get to step into that same identity.
We can’t forget that as Children of God we have already received the highest level of worth
possible. Before we ever did anything, the Creator of Heaven and Earth looked down at us and
said that we are his children and that he was and is well pleased with us. The freeing thing in
this is that because we didn’t do anything to earn this praise, there is no way that we can ever
lose it. There is nothing that we can do to add to this value and there is no failure that could ever
take it away. So there is freedom to step into every challenge from our place of being fully
known and loved and not in a way that we are working to keep or earn it.
I’m praying for all of us in these coming months of tests and college applications and celebrating
with family that we could remember that God calls us to pursue excellence and is glorified in
that pursuit here and now, but that our failures don’t define us and are ultimately insignificant.
Halle Kill is a former student of The Potter's School and is currently at Baylor University Medical School