I have five kids. I love them will all my heart and have learned some amazing lessons from being their dad. For example, some years ago I was in the house studying when I heard the weirdest sound coming from outside: clunk, clunk-clunk, clunk-clunk. Confused, I went to check it out.
One of my sons had one of those little plug-in, power-up kid Jeeps with the hard tires on it. He happened to be far away from our house, apparently leaving. The clunk, clunk, clunk was him driving on the gravel. He was only about four years old, so I ran after him and stood in front of him. “Whoa, buddy, where you going?” He matter-of-factly stated, “I’m going to get doughnuts.” I said, “Hey, buddy, you can’t go get doughnuts.” And he replied, “I’ll be back later.”
In his mind, this was great freedom. Finally, a vehicle! But that much freedom would lead to his suffering. He was literally ready to merge onto a street that had a forty-mile-an-hour speed limit. As his father, I realized that such freedom would harm him.
Not long after that incident, I built a fence. Now, if my 4-year-old had attended college, he could have stood in the yard, looked at the fence, and philosophized, “Look at this oppression that limits my freedom of choice and my ability to express myself. Look at the limitations that my unkind father has burdened me with.” As a father, I would have said, “Actually, this is an act of love. If you hop the fence, you’re going to get hurt. If you wander off the property, you’re going to get hurt. I want you to enjoy the whole yard, but don’t leave your father’s household because it will be to your ruin.”
We don’t always see the love behind God’s actions and motives because we’re rebels. Many of us don’t understand his loving protection because we are fatherless—we didn’t have a dad or we didn’t have a dad like God. But we can find encouragement in knowing that God is a “father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). When God gives us laws, if we don’t see him as a Father—kissing us on our foreheads, sitting with us on the couch, telling us how much he loves us, and telling us that every law is a board in the fence to preserve our lives so we can run freely without being harmed—then we will altogether reject a loving Father who wants life for his kids.
Every one of God’s laws is just a plank in the fence. When you see the fence, remember that your Father loves you. Freedom is not freedom to jump the fence, but freedom to play in the yard. That’s exactly how God’s children are to view the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Father’s laws.