I woke up to the sound of my car grinding into a guardrail.
That was a Sunday. The Friday night before, I had not slept a wink because I was helping my soon-to-be-in-laws with last-minute preparations for my bride’s and my wedding. The wedding started at 10 on Saturday morning. I managed to look alive enough to say my wedding vows and smile at the camera. By the time the ceremony and wedding pictures had ended, it was around noon. We traveled to the reception hall for a New England four-course dinner. By the time we had finished eating and opening gifts, it was late afternoon. From there, we had to drive a couple hours to our honeymoon location. We had done things right and kept ourselves for one another until that night, so, exhausted though we were, we did not get to sleep very early that evening! The next morning we had to get up at 4 AM to get to the airport three hours away. The sleep we so desperately needed eluded us on the airplane, too. Finally my new wife got some sleep on the drive from our destination airport to our hotel for that Sunday evening. I tried to fight off the drowsiness.
I woke up to the sound of my car grinding into the guardrail.
I jerked back onto the highway where cars were honking and flashing their lights at me. Scared out of my mind, I pulled off to the side of the road to see what damage I had done. Two grooves down the side of my car exposed my carelessness. I was mad my car was damaged but I wanted to hug those guardrails for saving my wife and me from death.
The Law is a guardrail
Should Christians be legalists who live by the letter of the law? Laws and rules are like guardrails. They help us to not wander off track. Yet at the same time, God’s children are not under Moses’ Law, but under grace. Do we need rules and regulations to control our behavior? No.
You do not need guardrails on a highway. Most people have never used them like I did. The only people who use the guardrails are the ones who have wandered from the course—those who are aiming in the wrong direction. If a person swerves from the path severely enough, even guardrails will not stop him.
The moral laws or rules in God’s Word are merely guardrails to help keep a person from going over the edge. Nobody I have met does all their driving on the guardrails, however. That would be brainless.
Grace is the highway
When I am well-rested, I prefer to drive in the hammer lane. I like to get out there on the left side of the highway and just hammer it—put the pedal to the metal—make sure the dinosaurs did not die in vain. I don’t get on a freeway to sightsee; I don’t take the interstate to lollygag. The last thing I am trying to do is find a guardrail to lean on. I have a destination in view and that is all that matters.
People who get upset about the guardrails must be on a course of self-destruction. Either that, or they have lost sight of the destination. God does not give us guidelines so we can cling to them for some sense of self-validation. He sets up boundaries for our protection but also inspires us to head in the right direction. When a person catches the vision of being a loving, peace-making, joy-sharing, life-loving child of God, they will not need guardrails. Once you get on course with loving the One true God with every ounce of your being and loving others the way you want to be loved, you will not need a safety net of rules to make you behave.
Jesus said, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
If you are having a hard time staying on the right path, it is not because you need bigger guardrails; you have simply lost sight of the destination. Steer your life in the direction of what is eternal. Then floor it!