Over the Line

A few weeks ago our family went out to eat after church. As we pulled into the parking lot of one of our favorite “quick-eat” style places, we noticed there was a parking space open right in front. My ears were already perked up waiting for Jonathan to say his classic “must be livin’ right” as he whipped the van into the right-up-front spot. But as he turned in, we noticed what a tight squeeze it was between the two cars on either side. As I attempted to open my door, I quickly realized that the car parked to the right of us was way over the line. I squeezed out and got the kids out and headed inside. Jonathan joined us inside and commented to me that he had to move the car to another spot in order to have more space to get in and out. And as he walked by our original parking place he then noticed that every car in that row was over the line. One car parked crooked had caused every other car to park over the line indicating their space’s boundary. One car that parked over the line had affected every other car’s ability to park straight. What started out as a small breach in one boundary ended up having a drastic effect on many other areas. 

It occurred to me that we treat our lives a lot like this parking lot. We tend to compartmentalize them into certain areas assuming that we’ll be able to keep each area in check. We have a work area, a home area, a church area and many others. But what often happens is that something causes us to cross a boundary within one of those areas - a temptation, a sinful behavior that has been neglected, a desire of the flesh - and we assume that it is not really a big deal. Because we’re good at compartmentalizing. We’ll just keep this part separate. A small breach in the boundary won’t really be that big of a deal, will it? 

But what we learned from the parking lot that day was that even going a little “over the line” can cause a bigger problem in other areas - even ones we assumed were unrelated. Because the reality is that our lives cannot be fully compartmentalized - nor should they be. As believers, we’ve given lordship to Christ over all areas of our lives, which means they are all connected and operating within one big boundary thats been set for us by God’s word. God’s word has established the parameters within which we are to live in every area of our lives. When we give in to temptation or neglect to turn from sinful behavior, we are making choices that will impact our lives as a whole and our witness to others. Going a little over the line in one area can lead to a whole parking lot of line crossing. And as always, the enemy would have us believe otherwise. He would tempt us to think that a little foolishness was harmless and that a small side step outside of God’s will won’t do any permanent damage. But Paul warns us otherwise in Ephesians 5:15-17: 

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

The days are evil. And the enemy is absolutely out to convince us that we can keep our spiritual lives separate from the rest of our lives. But if we are careful in how we walk (and park), we can take steps in obedience, which we know will always be the Lord’s will for us. Be encouraged. A car parked crookedly can always reverse and straighten up. Thankfully the Lord extends the same grace to us. When we actively resist the temptation or sinful behavior, we are choosing to reverse and realign our hearts with His. We may step over the line but we don’t have to remain there. We don’t have to let a foolish decision throw everything out of whack. Instead, we can choose to park ourselves right smack dab in the middle of God’s will and submit to His leading in all areas of our lives. And then we can say with confidence in the words of Jonathan...

Must be livin’ right!

Megan Woodham