Imagine yourself driving on a high mountain road. To the left, towering rocks rise high toward the summit. To your right, just beyond the passenger door, a cliff looms. The road is not too narrow, but with the ledge nearby, you wish the road had more margin. You grip the wheel tighter. Your eyes dart back and forth from the road before you to the cliff’s edge. Your heart beats faster. You can do this, but it’s uncomfortable, particularly since you can’t know what is coming in the other direction just around the corner.
Now, imagine the same road, high rocks on your left, and a daunting cliff on your right. Except this time, there are secure guardrails that would keep even a swerving car from careening off the ledge. Your nerves may still be on edge, but nothing like when the unguarded cliff is in our sights.
When we hear the Bible tell us to “Guard our hearts” (Prov 4:23) or someone suggests we put up guardrails over our eyes and actions, we may feel restricted. Who has the right to tell us what to do with our lives? But guardrails are not only for our protection (think looming cliff) but for our freedom. Guardrails (predetermined protections and limits) save us from sailing over the cliff’s edge. Guardrails also allow us to drive in a more relaxed way, even on dangerous roads.
If we are wise, we will use the power of guardrails to both protect us from disaster and allow us to live freely on a good path. Guardrails are a helpful image for so many areas of my life. Guardrails help protect me from overeating and drinking too much. I work to have guardrails on my words (not speaking out when angry or exhausted). Most of us could benefit from guardrails on our eyes, protecting us from the lure of online shopping or the visual assault of TV or movies. In our fast-paced, over-committed culture, we need guardrails on our time. We even need guardrails on our emotions.
My encouragement is to reframe guardrails as a way to live more freely without fear of getting “derailed” rather than seeing guardrails as a restriction on our freedom. It’s tough to live wisely. There are so many threats, so many minefields waiting to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) our joy.
· Where do I need guardrails in my life?
· What are the predetermined protections and limits that may save me from going down the wrong path?
There is freedom in discipline—joy in boundaries.