Monday, April 11, 2016


Last time I went bowling, the family in the lane next to me had a small child, maybe six years old, bowling with them. When it was the child turn, the bumper rose into place in the gutters, (nearly) guaranteeing that wherever the child propelled his ball down the lane, he would hit some pins. No one likes throwing gutter balls, so for a small child the possibility of one being removed makes for a more enjoyable experience. It makes the game too easy for adults though. We need the to be more precise, more accurate to push ourselves, to make the game challenging.

Ever been to a circus and seen a tightrope act? If it was a lower tier sort of affair, chances are there was a net beneath them as they performed their feat. A higher end act, truly professional performers might work without a net, because then the threat level goes way up. The possibility of catastrophe drives up the drama of the act, making the experience more intense, more memorable.

When we drive on roads through mountains, as the road nears areas where the terrain falls away, there are usually guardrails. There might also be large reflective signs to alert drivers of the danger. Unlike a game or a performance, when our safety is on the line we can forego the challenge and the drama. It’s a matter of priorities.

In the old testament, there are 613 rules that Jewish people were to follow. Some of these (most notably the ten commandments) were instituted by God. Many of the other ones though, the priests came up with. These rules acted like bumpers, or safety nets, or guardrails. They were there to help people stay on course and not break the big rules.

The problem with this was the potential to move towards legalism, and in the process, lose sight of the reasons for the rules to begin with: to maintain a healthy relationship with God. Of course as Christians, with Jesus having written for us a new covenant in his blood, we are no longer under the law, and are free to focus on and seek that relationship, to nurture it, to develop it and grow in our spiritual walk towards Christ.

That is not to say though that the idea of guardrails is always a bad one.
I think each of us must continually search our hearts and know our own strengths and weaknesses. If you are aware of areas in your life that might tempt you to sin and damage your relationship with God, it is up to you to avoid those areas. In Matthew 5:29 the Lord says

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Since Jesus was wont to speak in parables, i think we can safely guess he wasn’t calling for self mutilation, but for responsibility.

A friend told me of his co-worker who when out at work related dinners or away from his home on business trips, always stops at two beers. When asked why, he said “Nothing good ever happens after two beers.” This man had identified an area that potentially could cause him to stumble, so he built a guardrail into his life. Whether it be setting blocks on your computer to prevent viewing certain websites, or choosing not to watch particular shows or movies that cause you to falter, there are many ways to go about setting up your own safety measures. For every person they will be different. Examine your life, your marriage, and your spiritual walk. Where are your trouble spots? How can you protect yourself from them.

What bumpers, safety nets or guardrails to you need in your life to ensure you keep healthy your relationship with your spouse and God?