Posted by: pastortomvabeach | January 22, 2013

Thought for the Week January 27, 2013

There is an article in the January 20, edition of the Pentecostal Evangel, that shares a story that I think helps to illustrate and support the reason to have guardrails in our lives. The article is not about setting up guardrails but certainly shows what can happen if we choose to forego them. That author, Catharine Phillips, over 25 years ago, as a high school senior, discovered that she was pregnant. Though she’d been raised in the church, the magnitude of the situation overwhelmed her and, following a doctor’s advice, had an abortion.

In the intervening years she has received Christ as her Savior and slowly, over time, worked through His forgiveness to overcome her own admitted self-loathing. Yet she says she will carry the pain of this act she regrets for the rest of her life. I think she is very brave to share her heart in this way and I believe Jesus can also remove the pain even if the memory lingers.

At any rate, the point I wanted to bring up is that she writes to say, “As believers, we have to be wary of the phrase, ‘I can’t imagine how anyone could ever …..’ A danger in such a statement is to think of ourselves as being above certain sins. In a perfect storm of circumstances, some carry out what many of us consider unthinkable.” Mrs. Phillips goes on to pose situations that could, if we were to be found, might end in us doing things we would not consider in our current circumstance. She is quick to say that she is not excusing anyone’s responsibility for engaging in activity that is sin but wants us to remember that due to the grace of God, “you’ve been spared the storm of circumstances that leads to particular failures and fallen behaviors.”

Here is where I thought about guardrails. While many of the situations she is describing are out of our control (place of birth, upbringing, economic status, even religious training, etc.), the ones which we can control have just as much potential to lead to, “How could he/she ever….?” We may not be able to control some of our circumstances but we surely can decide, if we are convinced of God’s holy standards, that we are not going to walk so close to the edge that compromise, failure, giving it, falling over, are a gust of life circumstance away.

I wonder if we aren’t often trying to excuse ourselves after we wind up in the ditches of life by saying, “Well, you didn’t have the same storms of life that I had,” and we are reluctant to admit that we created those storms by walking too close to the thunder clouds or walking in the midst of the tornado when we had the means and the guidance to get in the basement (guardrails).

This dear sister’s article reminded me of what Paul said to the Corinthians, Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (I Corinthians 10:12 ESV). Yes, we are saved from sin, given a new heart, no longer slaves to temptation and sin, yet we are warned never to take any of this for granted and to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit while avoiding, as much as we can, occasions of sin. This is all about guardrails. If we stay in the safe zone as much as we can, God will stir our consciences whenever we get too close to the edge.

Paul followed the warning with a promise: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (I Corinthians 10:13). I believe that most often that way of escape is simply bumping up against the guardrails that we have preset in our lives.

I encourage you to pick up the January 20 Evangel, and read Mrs. Phillips’ article on page 18. She has a lot more to say which reminds me that our guardrails are meant to protect us and not so that we can point at others. Instead we must exercise compassion especially to those who are unchurched and have not yet understood God’s great love and grace. So what are your thoughts about this whole thing? You’ve heard mine.

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