Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Value of a Good Set of Brakes

Years ago as a ministry student in college a friend and I had a semester-long internship at a church about an hour away from campus.  Each Sunday we would make the scenic drive from the suburbs of Philadelphia northwest to the more rural Pennsylvania city of Allentown. Art, my friend and cohort, had the car, so he would drive his blue Ford Maverick and I would navigate. I have many fond memories of our Sunday drives and our time spent up in Allentown, but I will never forget one particular Sunday morning trip.

We were coasting along one beautiful Fall Sunday morning, and as navigator I instructed Art to make the next left turn.  But instead of turning, he just sailed by.  As we missed our turn I asked Art what the problem was and his reply went something like this - "My brakes aren't working well."   Not exactly what I wanted to hear!  Panic shot through my soul.  I'm no mechanic but even I know that brakes are fairly important!  Somehow he managed to get the car stopped (I think he may have had to use the parking brake) and we made it to church on time and, somewhat miraculously, we made it back to campus that evening.  This is a story I never told my mother!

Brakes are important.  When you buy a car brakes are not an accessory.  The salesperson never asks if you'd like to have brakes with that new car you're buying.  They come standard.  When your car is inspected they don’t check if the radio works, but they will check if the brakes are functioning. No one in their right mind drives a car without brakes!

Some people criticize the Bible because of all the "thou shalt not's."  All those rules and regulations have the tendency to turn people off.  We want to be free to do whatever we want to do.  But I like to think of all those commands as God's braking system for humanity.  Maybe he's not trying to keep us from having fun, maybe he's trying to keep us from crashing.  Just as brakes are important to a car, prohibitions are important in our lives.  They keep us safe.  They keep us from totaling our lives.  They prevent disastrous accidents.

It's useful for all of us to occasionally look at our lives and consider if there are actions that we need to put the brakes on. Is there something in your life that if you don’t stop you could end up in a ditch?  Maybe it's alcohol, or drugs, or sex, or overspending, or anger.  There are hundreds of behaviors that left unchecked could end up in disaster.   And maybe you're just cruising along oblivious to the danger, living pedal to the metal just enjoying the ride.  You may need to tap the brakes before it's too late.

When you think about it, even a car without brakes will eventually stop, but usually that's not real pretty.  You find yourself wrapped around a tree or in some other car's backseat.  If you’re lucky enough you'll be able to look at the wreckage and wonder why you didn’t use your brakes.

A life without brakes will eventually stop too, but that's usually not pretty either.  No one in their right mind lives a life without brakes!

A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.
Proverbs 14:16