As a lover of movies I have seen a robbery film or two. You know the type; the bad guys get together and for some reason (either good or bad) they contrive a way to rob a bank or maybe an armored car where no one gets hurt and no one on the team gets caught. In every plan such as this the main way that no one will get caught is known as the ‘cover up’. This means that through some means of pretending the members of the team infiltrate the bank and the robbery either looks like it was done by someone else or that it never even happened at all.
While that seems great for a pretend movie where they are only actors and the bullets are actually blanks and everyone goes home to their families after the filming is over, real life is often quite different. When we embark on the ‘cover up’ in our own lives others get hurt and our selfishness can cause a great deal of damage. Try as we might to pretend that nothing is wrong or that the blame lies somewhere else, the problem still exists and is probably getting worse every second.
How does this work? Let’s examine again my falling out of shape. Normally I exercise six days out of the week and eat a certain number of calories each day to maintain my weight and try to keep my body fat percentage low. But then the holidays come rolling around. On the great day of being thankful and eating way too much turkey I tend to throw all the rules out the window. I don’t exercise because I want to spend quality time with my family. I don’t worry about eating healthy because of all the wonderful sights, smells, and flavors out there to be sampled.
And honestly, one day of poor eating won’t ruin your life. But what happened that year was that one day of poor eating and not exercising led me to not workout or eat right for a few days. Then it was like a snowball effect. A few days turned into a week or two and sure, I’d catch a few miles here and there or lift weights a day or two of the week but the more time went by the less and less motivated I was to get back into the groove. Before long I had made so many excuses about why I was not eating right and exercising that almost four months had slipped by without me getting back into my routine of healthy living.
The same thing happens in our spiritual life. We place the blame on external factors and do not place guardrails in our lives to keep ourselves on track. For my health, my wife reminds me that we should eat well and exercise often. After that reminder there is the scale. It lets me know when the calories are adding up. After that guardrail is my belt. If the notches are not where they should be then my belly is getting too big. Do you see how guardrails work in our lives?
My friend who had an affair did not wake up one morning and decide to ruin his marriage, tear his family apart, put years of heartache on his children, and totally upset the community of friends he lived in. Instead it was one excuse after the other. He had to work with that other woman; it was part of his job. Being with the other woman was more fun, his wife never wanted to hang out with him anyway. It felt good to be around someone who appreciated him because no one in his home did. And on and on the excuses went.
My friend did not have a set of guardrails in his life to keep him from falling into that trap. He did not have anyone or anything to hold him accountable for his actions. And before he knew it he had allowed himself to cause a problem so big that he could not solve it. It was a snowball effect that is still being felt to this day in his life. If he would have set up some guardrails in his life to act as barriers he would have seen the problem coming long before it was too big to handle.
In the passage from 2 Samuel chapter 11 King David was in a similar problem. David did not wake up one morning and decide to have an affair with another man’s wife and then have that man killed so that he could be married to Bathsheba. But his small mistake of not going out to war with his armies and staying behind in the castle led to the snowball effect happening and David found himself in a problem that was almost impossible to solve. In fact, we’ll see as we keep reading that David’s decisions effected himself, his children, and eventually his grandchildren.
Where does this apply to you today? I want us to reexamine 2 Samuel chapter 11 with the big picture in mind. Now that you know how the events go start again from the beginning and watch how the small decisions to do the wrong thing added up to one very big problem. We can easily see how King David’s lack of guardrails in his life allowed his life to spiral out of control.
How does this look in real life? Let me show you one more example. My wife and I set up guardrails in our marriage many years ago. These are our nonnegotiable items that will not be compromised on so that our marriage and our family are protected. We don’t each lunch alone with a member of the opposite sex. We don’t have super close friends with members of the opposite sex. We go to bed together unless absolutely necessary (i.e. – graduate school homework). We each have accountability partners of our same gender that we chat with weekly. We have a weekly date night just the two of us. Plus a few more, but you get the idea.
We put these guardrails up before any problems every came up because we don’t want them to ever happen. Last time we looked at how we have to admit there is a problem before we can fix it. Now that you have realized what areas in your life need to be addressed you can begin to add guardrails in to keep it from happening again. Don’t know what guardrails you need? Find someone who has recovered from the same problem you have in your life and see how you can use their guardrails in your own life. But rest assured, if you never start to fix the problem it will never get fixed. It all begins with that first step.