Length and Breadth

“Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

–Genesis 13:17

At small group a few weeks ago, we spoke about the way Jesus approached each miracle differently: mud on the eyes of one man, send another man to the river, let a woman touch his cloak, use the power of his voice.

I love this about Jesus, but I admit that it is very difficult for a rule-following, people-pleaser like myself. I want a checklist, please. I want step-by-step instructions and guaranteed outcomes. I don’t do well with open-ended.


All my life, I looked for signs that I am on the right track, doing the best thing, making the correct decision. In motherhood, I have wavered about working full-time or part-time or from home or not at all. In writing, I wrestle with what to write or not to write, who to share it with, and how much time it all takes. In relationships, I wonder if I am being needy or honest, generous or self-serving, friendly or grasping for approval.

Here in Genesis, God tells Abraham, “Here is the land I’ve given you. Now explore it. Go right up to the edges, cover every square inch.”

He didn’t rope off the territory with barbed wire. He didn’t string up caution tape or post “No Trespassing” signs. He didn’t say, “Tread carefully, lest you misstep.” God gives Abraham the permission to walk without concern for where the border lies, a wide and expansive space in which to become the man he was meant to be.


I know I shouldn’t define my identity in terms of the stuff I do. I understand that how I spend my time is different from who I am. At the same time, if I feel confident in anything, it’s the roles God has given me: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, writer. I know those well.

I often wonder if I am living under and within the shelter of God’s will, like any good Sunday school attendee. In each of those roles, I question my motives and choices and obsess about the outcomes. 

But I’m tired of this. I no longer want to behave as though each role is accompanied by a well-defined list of DOs and DON’Ts. I am not walking on a tightrope. God has given me the permission and freedom to explore each role fully, to try and fail and then try something new.

My pastor once said, “God cares more about who you’re becoming than what you’re doing.” I need to repeat that phrase to myself every day, as a means of choosing joy and, well…staying sane.

I want to walk the land like Abraham, exploring the length and width, depth and breadth of my life. I want to create new paths by wearing down the earth with the soles of my feet. I’ll return to the familiar places at the end of the day, but I’ll do so with the peace of knowing that I wasn’t afraid to venture out. These are the unforced rhythms of grace, the light and easy yoke I wear.

I’m hopping the fence, friends. Let’s start walking.

1 thought on “Length and Breadth

  1. Beautiful words. Beautiful thoughts.

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