10 guardrails keep us out of the gutter

Saturday, August 21, 2004

"For the Lord is righteous, he loves righteousness; his countenance beholds the upright." Psalm 11:7

By June Seabaugh ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian

Children dropped and bounced their bowling balls down the lanes. Balls wobbled from side to side and often managed to upset some pins before the automatic pinsetter moved into action. No balls rolled down the gutters because the gutter guardrails had been raised.

As I watched the children at the bowling alley, I wondered if we children of God have also been given gutter rails to guard, help us, and keep us out of the gutter. It seems to me that God has provided the Ten Commandments to guide us as we roll down life's lane. They provide directions for a healthy relationship with God and instructions to help us get along with others. They're simple. Don't lie, don't steal, don't destroy lives, be faithful to your spouse, treat your parents well, respect God and take time to spend with Him, don't waste your time wanting what someone else has -- instead have an attitude of gratitude. They're not mind-boggling, but they're failure-boggling. They're designed to keep us in line for successful, productive, happy living. They make our lives 10s instead of zeroes. I have a hunch that they're even earthshaking. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone followed the Ten Commandments? Maybe it'd be like heaven.

Gutters? The world is full of them: anger that destroys relationships, bitterness that eats up a person's joy, mind-boggling addictions to drugs or pornography, adultery that destroys marriages, feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem, fear of failure, pride and arrogance, self-centeredness, and the list could continue at length. The world has gutters, but God gave his children the Ten Commandments as guardrails to help keep us out of those gutters. He wants us to be happy. He enjoys our success. He celebrates our victories.

We have a choice, though. Bowling alleys may have gutter guards available, but we have to be humble enough to ask for them. We have to be willing to admit that we're just child bowlers and we need help to stay out of the gutters. Too often most of us feel like we can direct our own lives, and we see God's commandments as meddling or taking away our fun. We want to make our own rules without God's interference. We want him to help us when we need it, but not interfere in our lives. Besides, rebellious creatures that we are, we just like to break rules sometimes. A whole lot of us don't want someone else telling us what we should or should not do -- not even God! It requires an ounce of humility to admit that we're lousy bowlers and need guardrails, and it also requires some humility to submit to God's guidelines for good living.

June Seabaugh is a resident of Cape Girardeau.

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