Good fence

Not badly shaken

“Good fences make good neighbors.” ~ Robert Frost

I love my neighbors. We have really good ones, even without a fence on all sides. However, if I were to wish for one thing for my backyard full of flowers, it would be to completely enclose it with a fence.

Year after year, we have discussed how great it would be if our old hound dog could bask in peace in his own yard, without stray dogs coming in to harass him on his tie-out line. A fence would also be useful to hide garden tools and empty pots from the street view.

The garden would have a more defined look with a distinct border on all sides. One neighbor has a great fence on which they have graciously let me grow my vining plants, but much more is needed for the private enclosure we envision.

Countless times I have scoured online ads for used fences. The ones we could afford have been in pieces; half-rotted wooden panels that might not stay up for more than a week or two. Most of my plants have been purchased at bargain rates, so why can’t the coveted fence be the same?

Here’s why; I can’t nurse a wooden wall back to good health. It’s okay to take a chance on a dollar plant, but a fence is a much bigger investment. If it falls down, a lot of time and money will have been wasted. No fence at all might be a better prospect than a shaky one.

It was quite fascinating to find the subject of fences in the Bible.

“My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.

He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?

They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse.

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.

He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken”
(Psalm 62:1-6, NASB).

The psalmist decries how his enemies have shaken him like a tottering fence. He then compares God to a rock, in vivid contrast. It is curious how the sentence construction allows that we CAN be shaken…a little, anyway. But because of God’s presence, we “shall not be greatly shaken” (v. 1).

Even the strongest Christians have been shaken, but not badly. There will be times in almost anyone’s life that will shake a person up.

In my native Connecticut, stone walls are everywhere. It is surmised that they are a result of early farmers having to move the rounded stones from their land and piling them on the borders of their fields. The common joke there is that stones are the major crop in New England. They just seem to come up out of the ground even after you think it’s cleared of them.

The problem with these, as with the rickety wood fences that I’ve found for sale, is that they can lean or be shaken, like the walls in the psalm. In Robert Frost’s poem, they needed to be mended every year.

A good wall or fence can’t be “greatly shaken.” It might be shaken a little, but won’t fall. If we lean on God, we won’t, either. We will be “good fences.”

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Christine (Tina) Berglund

Christine lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Gary, a.k.a. "The Yard Boy." They have served churches in eight states where Gary has preached full-time most of their married lives. The children have flown the nest, but they "baby" their plants now, and even get to visit grandchildren once in a while.

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