Guardrails

I muse over Colorado visitors who, after driving through our majestic mountains, comment about the guardrails. Equal to their expressions of gratitude for the existence of them is the overwhelming fear where they are absent. My son and daughter-in-law drive countless hours up and down from the highest elevations to the lowest, and I don't think they could tell you where the guardrails are and are not. But folks who are unfamiliar with our extremely steep canyons go from sweaty palms to sighs of relief as their tires hug the winding tight rope.

It's a matter of perspective, isn't it? What constitutes a feeling of safety for one person can conjure extreme fear in another. And we can have a false sense of security as well -visualizing a non existent guardrail.  I think we do that a lot. 

From a spiritual standpoint, people can make guardrails out of acts of kindness, church attendance, and a plethora of rituals. Even those who faithfully follow the Ten Commandments can perceive a law-abiding life as a safety net. And if they fail any way, what then? They pacify themselves, reasoning that their motives are still good. 

And what about the second greatest commandment "love thy neighbor as thyself"? If I truly loved my neighbors as much as I do myself, I would constantly be concerned about their well-being. I would be giving them food and water every day, paying their bills, giving them showers, and everything else I don't hesitate to do for myself whenever I want or need.

There was once a religious young man who was very wealthy (Luke 18:18-23). But he knew there was still something missing from his life. He approached Jesus, asking "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" His question was very telling from the start. First, he based the title "Good Teacher" on what Jesus had been doing (which was not what made Him good). Then, he based his own eternal destiny on the assumption that he could earn heaven by doing something ("what must I do to inherit eternal life?"). Jesus then reminded him of the Ten Commandments. The young man replied "these I have done since my youth". Then Jesus said, "One thing you still lack. Go, sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and follow Me." And that's where the young man drew the line. He walked away sad. Why? Because like many of us, money was his imaginary guardrail. It was the one thing he couldn't let go of. You see, it's often easier for us to "do something more" than to "let go" of something we already have, even if to save our very soul. Jesus further stated in Matthew 16:25, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his soul?"

The point is this. There is nothing required for us to do except to trust in the what Jesus Christ has already done and follow Him. Anything short of that (or added to it), is a phony guardrail that has no ability to save us from falling.

And it is a long... way... down.

"Our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections." 2 Cor 6:12




Comments

  1. Our flesh can be so vulnerable in the score keeping of our good deeds or even our thoughts. We place our God in the position of keeping a check sheet of our rights and wrongs or dropping weights on a scale. One side counting for good deeds, the other for bad. I say we, but I mean me.

    Though I don't feel this way (much) anymore, I did for sometime because I was raised in the catholic religion. A works based religion, to be sure. I also believed that I served a punishing god. Some ogre waiting to brow-beat me for anything done outside the lines.

    I believe the Lord saw my struggle with this and knows that I really just wanted a true, loving relationship with Him that would allow me to not desire the safety net of my works but, rather, to be just a good man for Him.

    He put me in a volunteer position at my church that gave me access to men who saw beyond my mask, called me on the fa├žade and then lovingly, but sternly, continue to guide me in the direction of righteousness. To learn to love His people from the deepest parts of my heart.

    Like strong, dependable guardrails, these men (and yes, some women) guide me in the way I should go in growing in Jesus, serving my wife and being a mentor to others. These guardrails hold me accountable to whom I seek to be.

    So I can keep driving on.

    JP

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