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Guardrails and Grace

Last Updated: July 27, 2021

Daniel Darling

Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of Teen People of the Bible, Crash CourseiFaith, and was a contributing writer to Zondervan’s Couples Devotional Bible. His work has also been featured in evangelical publications such as Focus on the Family, Marriage Partnership, Pray!, and In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley.

I was born, raised, and still live in Illinois, a flat, agricultural state willed with cornfields and farms. So whenever I have the chance to visit a mountainous region, I get excited. Mountains take my breath away.

A few years ago, Angela and I decided we were going to vacation somewhere in the Carolinas. We settled on Myrtle Beach. So our journey took us through the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and on through North Carolina. The view was breathtaking. Steep gorges. Waterfalls. Lush valleys. We actually stayed in Asheville for a few nights. I told Angela that I could easily live there.

But there is one caveat about visiting the mountains. Sometimes the drive up can be a bit harrowing. Driving through Tennessee and North Carolina, there were a few moments where I had my hands firmly at 10 and 2, driving slowly and making sure I kept my eyes on the road.

It is in those dangerous passes that I was most thankful for the guardrails. Those guardrails didn’t seem legalistic to me. They didn’t seem overbearing. In fact, I wouldn’t have objected if they’d made them a bit higher.

Why? Because those guardrails kept me on the road, kept me going to my destination. They made the journey safe and enjoyable.

Tools like Covenant Eyes are guardrails of grace. They help keep us on the path where we can enjoy fully God’s blessings and get us to the destination of maturity and rest in Jesus.

We don’t worship the guardrails. Nobody comes home from vacation and talks about how much they enjoyed the steel barriers on the side of a mountain pass. And similarly worshipping rules and regulations or seeing them as a form of righteousness is misguided.

Grace is the engine that fuels our journey toward Christlikeness. But guardrails help keep us in the flow of grace.

Sometimes we talk as if you either live by grace or live with guardrails. But it shouldn’t be an either/or proposition. It’s both/and. Because we want to live in the path of God’s grace we put up fences. Because we know our human tendencies to sin, our flesh’s own depravity, we proactively move away from a place of spiritual danger.

Why? Because it keeps us from enjoying the best of what God has to offer. Legalists hug the sides of the road and boast about their really nice guardrails. In doing so, they creep along the road of Christlikness and get nowhere. Next to them are those who work to kick down the guardrails, unaware of the danger below.

In the middle of the road are those fueled by the engine of grace.

  • Comments on: Guardrails and Grace
    1. Jerry Sinclair, Faithful & True on

      Daniel,

      That is an excellent article and a reminder that boundaries are not restricting us in bondage…but helping find freedom.

      Reply
    2. Angela Young on

      Awesome! I am grateful for the guardrails God has put in my life, but it takes a while to get there sometimes. We start out with that sin nature that wants to throw off all constraint and go. My pre-school grandchildren have been teaching me this lesson again. Just like we put up guardrails for our children because we know the consequences (going over a cliff…) and would spare them, God does the same for us. If only we would listen to Him more often:)

      Reply

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