More times than I’d like to admit I’ve imagined what would happen if people on the road just decided to abandon the traffic laws. I know it sounds kind of morbid, and I don’t actually imagine people getting hurt – just the mayhem it would cause if everyone suddenly decided to ditch the law and drive “their way.” I most often think of this, say, on an eight-lane freeway where everyone is pushing 80 mph or on bridge crossing a very large body of water, or at a busy intersection with a complicated series of lights, arrows and signs….. well, you get the idea!
Before we are allowed to drive, we (presumably) have received some sort of driver’s education or at least have taken and passed one of those two-sided tests at the DMV. We have learned the rules of the road, and we all share these narrow strips of asphalt so well that, for the most part, we travel from place to place safely without hardly even thinking about the incredible marvel it is.
This evening, as I was enjoying dinner out with my family at a classy local establishment….you know, the kind with a ball pit….we began to reminisce about the days where these kinds of playgrounds were regular treats, and before long, up came the subject of playground “rules.” Though my two “kids” are now ever so much taller than four feet, that is the standard height for these kinds of play structures. We were remembering all the times they were allowed to break this rule IF they were the only kids on the playground. As soon as even one other child entered the playground, they knew to climb off and let the child play the way the structure was intended – without rowdy 55 inch interlopers!
I’ve often heard the saying, “Rules were made to be broken.” Well…..nooooo, not really. I’d rather oncoming traffic stay on their side of the road, thank you very much. And I really resented it when teenagers took over the four foot play area when I expected safe play for my small children.
So, it appears some rules we are more than happy to keep….like the ones that keep us alive on the road! Why, then, are we so tempted to break the “lesser” laws that might just inconvenience us a little?
As a Christian, there is a natural tension between “law” and “grace”. I am free from the ultimate penalty of my sins because of the grace of Jesus Christ. But I am also advised to keep “God’s law” hidden my heart so that I won’t knowingly choose sin.
I see God’s law sort of like traffic rules. In a perfect world, I would thoroughly learn it once, pass the test with flying colors and never, ever be tempted to drive on the wrong side of the road….and with many things it is absolutely that clear. But for other things…..well, it’s more like the ball pit. I know the rules, and I obey them pretty well, especially as they might affect other people, but when left alone in the play area, well….let’s just say sometimes it’s easy to justify the things I don’t clearly define as “law.”
But I don’t believe God’s laws, or rules are in place to control me, or to keep me in my place….rather they are there to keep me……safe. If I choose to “drive on the opposite side of the road” I shouldn’t be surprised when life crashes in around me. And yet, I can’t claim I have never made that mistake. So, what do I do with that?
What I do with that, is……I cry, “Grace!”
I wish I could say I’ve never made the same mistake twice, or that I haven’t chosen a direction I knew wasn’t “in the rule book”, but the reason why I love my God so deeply, the reason I return time and time again to the design of God for my life is that there is always forgiveness. Always. And when I decide to “repent”, which literally means to “turn around”, it’s such a relief to know I am still completely accepted and loved….always! I may drive a dinged-up car for awhile, but I know I’ll be held safe and secure.
So, here’s an idea: the next time you find yourself driving or even riding in a car, notice the carefully orchestrated traffic patterns, and ask yourself, “If following simple traffic laws is so important to the health and welfare of myself and everyone around me, does it matter whether or not I follow God’s design for my life?”
My guess is…..yes. Yes, it does.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12