December 31 – Of Guardrails and Cliffs

Google News is open on my browser and I’m checking periodically for news as to whether or not we will fall, slide, tumble, trip or otherwise be troubled by this fiscal cliff, the edge with which apparently we have been flirting for over a year. By all accounts going over this cliff will not be a good thing, but not so bad, it seems, that our leaders are ready to lead us away from it.

There is a sense in which much of our lives is spent near the edge of the cliff, the various cliffs of our lives. Some of us have our own fiscal cliffs, while for others it is a relational cliff or a medical cliff or, yes, a spiritual cliff.

For some, going over the spiritual cliff is dramatic and fiery. An event or a crisis sends us hurdling headlong into unbelief or cynicism. The wreckage at the bottom is complete. Faith is lost and any hope for meaning abandoned.

Others, maybe many or most who go off the spiritual cliff, are like a motorist on a road trip. It is taking a long time to get where we want to be and drowsiness sets in. Asleep at the wheel, we slide over the edge, the cliff being more of a ditch than a precipice, but we seem to have survived the fall just fine, thank you. We take a look at what’s left of our spiritual lives, decide it’s beyond repair, and, amazingly, thinking that the destination probably wasn’t worth it after all, we simply walk away. We’ll start a new life right here in this spiritually dry place, and look at all there is to do here!

We need a guardrail. Whether we face crisis or tedium, whether over the cliff is a dramatic drop or a gentle slide, we need a guardrail.

God knows we need a guardrail. And he has provided one.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 ESV)

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. How might we be assured of having that guardrail of peace protecting heart and mind from the dangers of the spiritual cliff?

  • Rejoice in the Lord.
  • Live a reasonable life. Other translations call it a gentle or patient life.
  • Avoid anxiety.
  • Give thanks.
  • Pray.

Marcos pretty much demolished the idea of New Year’s resolutions in  yesterday’s sermon. I know he’s right, but can I encourage you to enter 2013 with new resolve to stay on the safe side of the guardrail? (The Christian is always called to risk, never to stupidity.) There is no better way to grow a life rich in rejoicing and gentleness, low in anxiety and marked by thanks and prayer, than by being with God’s people and in God’s Word.

You know the drill: Faith Acts and small group Bible studies; service, ministry and mission teams; fellowship events and worship. Visit if you need to know more.

Please, if you feel as if you’ve gone over the cliff and barely survived, let’s talk. Give me a call. If you’re simply living life at the bottom of a ditch, please, dust yourself off, climb out and get back on the road. The destination is worth it.

May the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus throughout the New Year!