Friday, December 2, 2011

Guard Rails

 “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.” 
Deuteronomy 28:1, 2 
(KJV)

The rain poured down as we traveled I-75 North after visiting Dad’s family in Tennessee.  
I was 5 years old, my sister, Debbie, was 13, and still living at home.  
She and I were riding in the backseat, Dad was driving, and Mom was in the front passenger seat.  Those were the days before wearing seat belts was mandatory, so we rarely wore them…
actually, I don’t even remember if our old car even had them! 

As we drove along, the rain intensified, and the temperature began to drop, 
making for very treacherous driving conditions.  
All of a sudden, still going full-interstate-legal-speed, our car started sliding.
Before we knew what was happening, Dad began to lose control.  
We were driving through a very mountainous stretch of highway, 
and there was a huge drop-off at the side of the road.  
As we careened across our lane, we slid into the shoulder of the road, and our car hit the guard rail.  
I still have memories of feeling the tremendous jolt, as our car and the guard rail collided.  
The impact of making contact at such high speed started our car spinning around.
When we finally stopped spinning, we found ourselves headed in the wrong direction, 
facing the oncoming traffic.  
I will never forget the feeling of being tossed from one side of the back seat to the other, 
and the fear and panic I felt as I looked ahead and saw oncoming cars heading straight towards us.

Dad was level-headed, and he was able, by God’s grace and mercy, to quickly get our car turned back around heading in the right direction, to avoid crashing into the oncoming traffic.  
I remember how we pulled off the interstate at the next exit and stopped at a service station.  
The man told us he was surprised our car had kept going because of something being shaken loose under the hood…I can’t remember the details, but I distinctly remember all of us giving thanks to God for the great mercy He had just extended.

We were bruised and shaken, but thankfully, none of us were seriously hurt.  
I have thought back on that accident many times throughout life.
I don't suppose you ever forget something like that.
I have relived it...and wondered about many "what-ifs?".
What if whatever had shaken loose would have caused the car to stall in the middle of the road?
What if that had happened when we were facing the oncoming traffic?
What if Dad hadn't been so quick to know what to do?
What if he had frozen in panic?
What if those cars would have been closer to us when we spun around to face them?
But, do you know what my biggest "what if?" question is?
What if that guard rail hadn't been there?
What if we had wrecked at a spot on that highway where there was no guard rail.  
Some stretches did not have guard rails, and if we had slid off the road at one of those points…
well, let me just say that we probably wouldn’t have been found for who knows how long, 
and more than likely none of us would be here today to tell about it.

Our collision into the guard rail was a violent, hard hit.  
It knocked us off-course for a few moments, and the shock of it was overwhelming.  
But, the crash caused two positive things to happen.  
It saved us from falling to certain death into the ravine beside the road, 
and it got our attention.  
Real quick. 
There was no ignoring or denying the impact of that crash.

Thinking back on that guard rail reminds me of life.



Along our individual journeys, God has placed parameters....
boundaries that should never be crossed.  
Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV) 
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, 
and few there be that find it.”  
The way to Heaven is a narrow way that few are willing to seek after and follow.  
Many view God's boundaries and commandments as restrictive and they prefer the broad way, 
where there are no restrictions, never realizing it is the way that leads to destruction. 

Surrounding these parameters and boundaries are guard rails... 
obstacles that God uses as wake-up calls....to keep us from careening over the ledge....  
when we begin to drift and waver and vary from the straight and narrow path, 
He will, many times, allow us to collide with these protective guard rails for two reasons:  
to save us from falling to certain eternal death and to get our attention.  
Because of His great love for us, He will allow certain things to happen in our lives to wake us up and cause us to stop and take a long, hard look and consider our ways.  

II Peter 3:9 (KJV) says, 
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; 
but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, 
but that all should come to repentance.”  
Repentance doesn’t just mean that we are sorry for our wrongdoing…that is certainly a big part of it.  But, it also means that we are sorry enough to turn around.  
To change our ways and get back on track.  
To change direction.

When we made contact with that guard rail on I-75, 
Dad could have stopped, once he recovered his senses,
 and complained about the damage the crash did to our car.  
He could have grumbled about the cost of the repair or the inconvenience of getting it fixed. 
I don’t remember him doing any of that.  
He was too busy thanking God that the guard rail was there 
and that it kept us from something far worse.  
And even though the impact spun us to the point of impending danger, 
he was able to recover himself and turn that car around.
Through God's mercy and providential care, that guard rail saved all four of our lives.

Have you ever lost control...
maybe storms have come, unexpectedly, entering your life out of the blue 
and causing you to spin and reel in the shock of their aftermath...
or you have veered too far from what you know is right...
   when suddenly something happened that jolted you back to reality and made you reconsider?  
My friend, that could have been nothing else but the mercy of God...
in the form of a spiritual guard rail.  
We view our “wake-up-call-collisions" with His guard rails as inconveniences 
and interruptions to our carefully-planned lives.  
We wonder why God won’t let us have our own way 
without accompanying guilt feelings and jolts to our conscience.  
We sometimes long for Him to let us run free without parameters .
We wonder why we can't do anything and everything we want without feeling reproved for sin.  

God loves us.
He sees the impending danger and dooming "drop-offs" waiting on the side of the road
for those who veer off the path.
So, He allows the collisions…
with the guard rails He has put into place.
Because He is not willing that any of us should perish.

Guard rails should not be moved.
They are put there in place for our protection.


By very definition, a literal guard rail is...
"a rail that prevents people from falling off or being hit by something
or
a strong fence at the side of a road or in the middle of an expressway, 
intended to reduce the risk of serious accidents."

We live in a time of spiritual compromise.  
People are taking their own way.  
They view the Bible as being outdated and old-fashioned and unnecessary.  
They are attempting to broaden the straight and narrow way
by endeavoring to move the guard rails.  
They feel that if they adjust the parameters ever so slightly, 
the Christian way will become more appealing to the masses. 
There seems to be a new "brand" of Christianity that is steadily becoming more accepted
and popular...and more and more contrary to God's Biblical standards of holy living.

Is this right?
Should we take it upon ourselves to move God's parameters and accompanying guard rails?
To attempt to re-write His Word?
To try to second-guess and re-think His thoughts?

Seriously?

God doesn’t change.  
What He has written, He has written.  
He is a holy God.  
He doesn’t bend the rules…just because it is now and we feel we should 
get with the program and conform to a standard less than what He has set.  
Proverbs was written by King Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, 
under the direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  
He wrote these words in Proverbs 22:28,
 “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.”  
The word landmark here means 
“a conspicuous object that is recognized as marking the boundary of a piece of land”.  
If the landmark is removed, there is no distinction as to where the land starts or where it ends.  
If we remove the boundaries, there will be no distinction between what is right and what is wrong, 
and we will find ourselves living in a lawless world where anything goes.

It bothers me when I hear that the Ten Commandments are being removed from court houses 
and being viewed more as the Ten Suggestions.  
I cry over seeing our growing trend of moving farther away from God and the Bible.  
Wrong is being labeled as right,
and right is now considered wrong.
The lines are becoming more and more blurred and muddled in our society.
God help us, dear ones.

My heart is burdened deeply when I think of the founding fathers 
and their vision for this great country.  
The eternal Word of God is the foundation upon which the United States of America was founded.
It provides guidelines and sets the parameters in place.  
To be successful, to remain great, 
we must stay within those parameters…
both as a nation and in our individual lives.      
If we do, Deuteronomy 28:1-14 promises us great blessings, as a nation and as a people.

But, what if we don't?
What does the flip side of this coin look like?
Let's read on in Deuteronomy 28:15,
"But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God,
 to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; 
that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee..."
And, oh, the curses!
You should take the time to read on from verse 15 through the end of the chapter at verse 68.

There are terms to God's covenant with His people.
Contrary to the popular "prosperity" message of our day, 
that attaches no qualifications or contingencies as being required, 
there are conditions that we must meet in order to retain God's blessing.

We can't afford to remove the ancient landmarks...
to ignore our continual collisions with His guard rails...
to think we know better than God.

How dare we?

We would do well to understand that God will not have His Word re-written 
to accommodate modern times….ever.  
Psalm 119:89 (KJV) says, 
“For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”  
It isn’t going to change…for me or for anyone else.  
Sometimes we convince ourselves to believe the lie that God no longer requires
the same thing He required of our forefathers.  
That times are changing, so we have a free pass to change, too, and to just go with the flow.  
That we should do what is “politically correct”, not what is “Biblically correct”, 
and that we shouldn’t make a scene or ruffle any feathers or "offend" anyone.  
That we, too, should go along to get along,
and we should move the guard rails to enlarge the path 
in order to justify our disobedience.

How many times will we, as a nation, collide with God's guard rails?
How long will He bear with our sins?
How far can we push His mercy?
How much more of our audacity will he tolerate?
We know what His Word says.
It will be fulfilled...just as it was written.

God, help us all.

Though a collision with a guard rail is not pleasant, it, very often, 
saves lives that would have otherwise been lost.

Colliding with a guard rail shakes us up, and gets our attention.  
Sometimes, we don’t want to be reproved for our wrongdoing, 
so we try to revise what, in God’s eyes, will never be altered, amended, or moved. 
The thing we need to remember is this...
regardless how many Biblical commands we endeavor to change,
God's Word will never be rewritten.
His law will never fluctuate.
And, God, in His infinite wisdom and Divine love has placed those guard rails in place
to save souls that would otherwise be lost.

My family experienced the benefit of a guard rail first-hand that rainy day.  
Its stability and immovability literally helped save all of our lives.  
How many times in my life has God’s unseen hand kept me from falling off the edge?  
Those times that I viewed His interruption as an aggravation, 
could have been the very means of keeping me on the right track.  

He sees the peril; I don’t.  
And even though I can sometimes view His laws and mandates as restrictive, 
I would do well to realize they are placed there for my protection...
not to fence me in, but to keep danger out.


14 comments:

  1. Yes! What a story! Not to fence me IN but to keep the danger OUT! So thankful for the guardrail that was there to protect your family and for those that God puts in our lives to keep us from falling. Blessings. ♥

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet visit, dear Nannette. You are such a dear blessing to me! God bless you, in return. :) Much love to you.

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  2. So powerful and true! I love how you use a visual to compare how God works with us - a guard rail! I know the fear of sliding off the road, it happened to me this winter as I was going slower than the speed limit and my truck lost control. Immediately I yelled out to God "protect me God!!" and I think in a matter of 3 seconds I called His name 4 times. I hit a light pole and it flew over my truck and I rolled down a big hill with the snow blowing towards my window. I couldn't see where I was going, but I had this peace that God was with me. Guarding me from getting hurt. My truck suffered much damage but my body did not.. Thank you for such a reminder of how God is such an amazing protector.. I found you on Homespun Devotions Link up :) God bless

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    1. Oh, my, bless your heart! What a terrible ordeal you went through, too! Praise our wonderful Lord for placing His protecting hand upon you and holding you close through this awful accident. He is so faithful to answer when we call upon Him! What would we do without Jesus? So thankful you stopped by, Rene. It was so nice to "meet" you. :)

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  3. May we each remember Who is our Guard at all times.
    Your words and story encourage and remind me.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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    1. Thank you so much, Linda. Yes, He is our Guard, and His precious Spirit is so faithful to let us know when we are veering off in the wrong direction. May we ever yield to His voice and do as He leads. So thankful for your sweet visit. :)

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  4. LOVE this! My priest once told a story about a group of children playing soccer on the top of a mountain, with cliffs on all sides. Without a fence, they had to stay in the center, far from the edges, and couldn't really play the game. But once it was fenced in, they could run about freely, without fear.

    I think boundaries and guards are soooo important!

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    1. What a wonderful analogy! I love the story your priest told. Thanks so much for sharing here! God bless you, Amy. :)

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  5. That event was so frightening to all your family, and Praise God, although shaken, no one was hurt except for a few bruises. The Bible is our Guard Rail to keep us safe on the road to heaven. A thought came to me, about the What if's? I know this sounds far fetched, but what if there was NO guard rail and God placed a guard rail where there was NONE. That piece of equipment under the car hood was held together by angels hands until you could get to the garage for repair. We often do not realize how many miracles happen every day, and we think whew, that was a close call. May God put up guard rails where there are none, and may we have open eyes to see the rails that are already there. Thank you for sharing this lovely story with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. Yes, praise the Lord, for His abundant mercy and loving kindness to each one of us. I love the thoughts you shared. You know...I never thought of that, but God could have done just that...He could have placed that guard rail there right before we arrived. Mom used to love that song called "The Unseen Hand", and I would often hear her say in prayer, "Thank you for sparing us from dangers seen and unseen." We see some of the things He keeps us from, but what about all of the dangers He spares us from that we do not see? We will probably never know how many times our guardian angels step up in our defense. Much love to you, Hazel. :)

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  6. Wonderful post dear friend. I am so glad that the guard rail was there, and I know that it was because God had awesome plans for your family and then your own family. I am glad that God has placed rails in our lives and although they hurt sometimes, they are there for only our God. Thanks for sharing this with us at Good Morning Mondays. Hope all is going good with you and your family. Blessings to you all. xxxx

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    1. Oh, yes, dear friend! I am so thankful the guard rail was there, too. As you said, God had a plan, and it was not our time to go. It was so nice to see that you had stopped by, as always. You always, always encourage and bless me! Much love to you and your sweet family. :)

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  7. This is a good word, Cheryl. Thanks for pulling it up from the archives and sharing it at Though-Provoking Thursday last week. :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Lyli. Praying for you, sweet friend. :)

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