On the Importance of Religion: The Guard Rail Analogy

2/29/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

This past weekend our Pastor, Fred Cason of True Life Fellowship in Beaverton, delivered a profound message.  As are many great metaphors in the modern west, it was came disguised as a vehicle metaphor.

What’s up with all the guard rails?

As each of us careen down the highways and canyons in life, from time to time we will observe to our left or right, a man made construction which, at a glance, appears to have little practical purpose.

In fact, it seems like a hindrance, an unnecessary distraction or limitation on an otherwise scenic drive.  If one dwells on it too long, its very existence may become quite bothersome indeed.

Yet guard rails serve an extremely important purpose.  For, if well placed, they can save a life.  They have the power to turn what would have been a deadly accident into a mere fender bender.  Fender benders are unpleasant, but they are much easier to repair and recover from than a fatality.

In some cases, guard rails are erected by those who have planned and built the road.  In other cases, they have been erected only after those whom have traveled down the road numerous times came to a tacit or explicit agreement as to where they are necessary.  While there may have been discussion as to exactly where to place them, their necessity was, at one point, obvious to all.

Regardless of how they got there, guardrails are set at places where the yellow painted lines were simply not enough to keep people from running off the road.

How are the guard rails in your life?

For guard rails which are carefully thought out are placed locations along the road where, were the driver to suffer a brief lapse in judgment or some sort of mechanical failure, the consequences for running off the road are the gravest.  Conversely, at places in the road where no such danger exists, it would be foolish to erect guard rails for the sake of erecting them.

A curiosity about guard rails, especially along the most scenic and well-traveled roads, is that they are often placed where the view is the best, which can make their existence extremely frustrating.

Yet they are there precisely because the very places where the view is spectacular are often where there is an extreme correlation between the level of distraction of the driver and the catastrophic consequences of running off the road into an abyss.

Do you see where this is going?

It is probably clear to most that a peculiar set of rules, commonly known as religion, determines the placement of the guard rails (the rules themselves in this metaphor) in one’s life.

The road is one’s life, their chosen path, the road where they have either intentionally traveled or via some obligatory detour, find themselves on.

Some roads are more dangerous than others, and require a careful placement of rules along the way in order to avoid hurtling one’s life towards disaster.  In this lies the benefit of religion.

Yet no one, save perhaps the guard rail contractor, chooses their road based solely on the guard rails placed along the way.

So, then, it is clear that the guard rail is not an end in and of itself.  In fact, when one is in control, focused on the road, and their vehicle is in good operating condition, they may not even notice the guard rails in their midst.

Guard rails will never provide one with focus or control of their vehicle, as rules will never provide one with focus or control of their life.  Only the Living God can provide this.

Ironically, the guardrail serves absolutely no purpose for the coherent, sober, focused driver.  It is the driver who, from time to time, gets distracted or willing takes their hands off the wheel (read, everyone on the planet) which to benefit the most from the guard rails’ (rules’) existence.

A final note, if you happen to find yourself on a road without any guard rails, it may be time to look for a different road.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com