In addition to nearly two dozen wildfires in CA, smoke from a fire at nearby Camp Pendleton covers our town. No, we’re not revisiting wildfires this week, but I do want to steal a fire fighting term—defensible space, which is controlling the vegetation around your house to help keep it safe.
To broaden it, that term applies to our low lying juniper patch, about 6’ X 15’. While we were away for six years, it grew rank and vines from our neighbors and asparagus fern invaded it, choking out a 3’ X 5’ section. Pic 1 shows the juniper, vine, and fern intermixed. This last week I began a minor procedure to trim it back, saw the extent of the problem, and it morphed into major surgery.
Our juniper had grown 3’ onto the neighbor’s land, allowing the vines to creep in unseen. If you followed this week’s Facebook posts, you saw a huge pile of trimmed juniper, much of it that 3’. Pic 2 shows the bare ground—or, defensible space against the invaders.
But let’s broaden the term even more. In following Jesus and developing his character, we also face attacks—invasive temptations and damaging acts. Maybe we can benefit by developing the concept of spiritual defensible space. Having a border, a boundary. Back in my teens and twenties, I typically pushed to the edge of sin without intending to go beyond. But living like that has brought pain when the flames jumped my thin defensible space. My indefensible space. Pain to me and to too many others.
So, an idea. Let’s build some defensible spaces. Fine tune this for yourselves, but here’s three I’m working on.
Guard our words. Jesus said our words will condemn or acquit us (Matthew 12:37). Paul said our words should “be good and helpful…an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29). Yeah, this includes Facebook and Twitter. When we do, our relationship will improve and people are more apt to listen to us on spiritual topics.
Guard our eyes. When I drove the Lamborghini, the instructor told me to look where I wanted to go, and my body would take me there. Our eyes can wander to attractive bodies, to nicer cars or homes, to places we really don’t want to go. So let’s create a safe boundary of what we look at.
Guard our minds. The worst thoughts invade my mind at the best times—in worship. I know why Satan sends them, to ruin my connection with God. The kicker—we choose the thoughts we allow to remain, so we can replace them with ones that are true and glorify God. Paul said that, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise...Then the God of peace will be with you” (Ephesians 4:89 NLT).
Very simply, decide ahead of time—now—to craft some defensible space in these three areas. Do it so it matches your life. You’ll avoid getting burned.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you have some spiritual weeds invading your life right now? Which seem most serious? Pray a bit about how you allowed them to get too close.
Look at those three spaces. Which do you most need to work on right now? Craft some very strong boundaries that you can stay clear of. Perhaps tell a trusted friend or two. Live that for a month, and reassess. Tweak it as needed. Then move on to the next defensible space.