On the Other Side of the Fence

Our neighbors, though rarely home, have a pair of donkeys. The neighbors come every three or four months for a few hours, yet somehow the donkeys continue to live.

On our side of the fence, our ducks quack and waddle as they are released every morning from their house and drink from their fresh water and poured feed. At night, they squawk and squabble over getting back in their house to be locked in.

The donkeys, from the other side of the fence, look on in interest and regret. They can do as they please. They have no one to push them into a house for the night—warm during the winter with straw, protected all year from any prey who would want duck for a midnight snack.
They are free to do as they please, when they please.

The donkeys also watch as our horses are trained. The horses are made to run in circles, faster and faster. Sometimes startled by a snapping flag. The donkeys watch in interest. They do not carry a rider, nor made to obey a command. 
But nor are they washed and brushed when lathered with sweat, nor are their itches scratched, nor their faces protected from irritating flies. nor are their noses touched by a gentle caress. 

The donkeys watch from the other side of the fence as hay by the truckload enters our gate. They can smell the fresh alfalfa or oats as each bale is opened and a flake is tossed to the horses. But they can do nothing more than smell, for they are on the other side of the fence.
When we pick weeds from the garden, they watch and bray as buckets of green treats are given to the cow, ducks and horses. But they can only watch. 
They do not belong here.

But those donkeys with the freedom to do as they please paced a trail on the other side of the fence, watching what happens on our side of the fence. They paced, watched and called, but to no avail. The fence keeps them separated. Their apparent freedom was a bondage. They served no purpose, had no reason. Couldn’t even dream. And no one care.

There was no trail on our side of the fence where our horses, or ducks or even dogs want to be with the donkeys. You only see it on that side of the fence, where they watch, they call, but are ignored.

Once their owners came for a weekend and built them—not one, but two shelters from the rain. They were made of clear plastic that would magnify the sun’s rays in the summer, making it like an inferno. When the master left, the two donkeys entered the shelter. Not to be protected, but to kick at the walls. We heard crashing for quite awhile. When the donkeys finally left the shelters, they had make huge holes in the plastic. They cared little for the shelter, and less for the master who had made it.

Did the master even notice? He wasn’t there. He didn’t care how the donkey responded.

So like our lives.
We were once on the other side of the fence. We had a different master. He cared not whether we were fed, watered, or even touched. We could to do as we liked.
But what good is freedom, when it pleases no one, not even ourselves.

We could do anything we wanted, but were not happy with what we could do. We served a master who did not care.
We were made for greater things then just chewing weeds and watching with longing at what others had on the other side of the fence.

The longing intensified, as we saw the care the other Master took to make sure an injured duck had special treatment, or a horse who especially pleased his Master, received a pat and a kind word.

All the donkey could do was watch and dream. 
And bray his frustration at what he saw but could not have.

We, too, do not know what we need or even want. But we see a glimpse of it—on the other side of the fence. The longing intensifies until that is all we want.

We asked the Ever-Present Master on the other side of the fence to allow us to come to His side. 

He opened the gate for us. And it is only through the gate that we are allowed over.
Jumping the fence only would get us back to where we now live.
We step to the other side. A burden lifts.
The new Master provided us with fresh water, food, clean hay, shelter.
We come to know the Master. He required obedience. He demanded holiness.
That means hard training to make me fit for His service.
But this Master cared, more than I could care for myself.

There is no going back. 
There is work to be done. 
A life to be lived, not for ourselves, but for our Master who makes all things right.

We know from both sides what life can be like.
Sometimes we grow discontent and wish for the freedom, but forget the price.
We often squabble and squawk over all the little things we must do. If only we could have more freedom, like those on the other side of the fence… We compare, we wish, we wallow in discontent—looking at the other side of the fence.
We have forgotten that freedom had its hidden costs. 
That we would lose the security of ownership.

Our Master demands great things, but we were made to do them. And when we do, not only is the Master pleased, but we are too. We have a sense of completeness, rightness, wholeness that comes from doing what we are made to do. And a satisfaction of pleasing the Master for Whom we are made.

What about the other side of the fence?
Remember the longing?
There are others who watch from the other side longing to know our Master.
They watch.
Tell them.

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I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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