Guardrails (Day 3)

Every so often it seems that a natural disaster comes our way in our Nation. In my lifetime I have seen many hurricanes come through my state and observed how life can be forever changed in just a few short days. Homes and lives were destroyed in just a short amount of time. Often what protected the family were the decisions to prepare ahead of time, secure the house as much as possible, pack up the most important of belongings, and evacuate before the hurricane showed up. It didn’t keep some damage from being done; but the family was protected and able to rebuild a new home.

This week we have been examining how our small decisions can add up to one big problem. In their popular song, Casting Crowns calls this situation a ‘slow fade’ where the areas that once were “black and white” have “turn[ed] to grey”. These small decisions can either prepare a family for the storm or it can allow the storm to absolutely destroy everything precious in their lives. Setting up guardrails in our lives is similar to the family preparing for a hurricane. The amount of preparation you take for the storm ahead of time will determine how much you can save after the storm. But rest assured, the storms of life will come.

So far we have identified the problem(s) and looked at how to keep them from happening in the future by setting up guardrails in our lives. What about the disaster that has already struck in your life? Maybe it is too late to set up guardrails to keep the problem from happening because it has already caused devastation and destroyed your home. Even if that is the case there are still things you can do to stop the destruction and start rebuilding. Even the family who did nothing to prepare for the storm can rebuild if they are willing to do the hard work.

Let’s look again at the example of David and Bathsheba. In 2 Samuel chapter 11 we have observed David make a series of small decisions that led to his choice to commit adultery and murder Bathsheba’s husband to cover it up. In the next chapters we’ll see how David and Bathsheba paid a price for their disobedience to God and how it affected their family. Take a moment to read 2 Samuel chapter 12. Here you’ll see that the prophet Nathan risked his life to obey God and confront King David about his sin. David recognizes his folly and repents. Let’s see how God uses Nathan to communicate his response:

2 Samuel 12 (NLT):

[13] Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. [14] Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the Lord by doing this, your child will die.”

Because David honesty repented from his disobedience God forgave him. But notice how the consequences were not taken away. Forgiveness of our sins does not mean that we will not have to suffer the consequences. A thief may still have to serve jail time. An adulterer may not have a deep and trusting relationship with his or her spouse for a long time as trust is rebuilt over time. An embezzler may lose their job even if the boss does not press charges. On and on the list could go, but the point hopefully is made that forgiveness does not always take away the consequences of our actions.

This is the application point for today. We cannot change the past, but we can accept the consequences and move on. The mistake has been made, we have earnestly repented and put guardrails up to keep the problem from happening again, but the ramifications must be accepted and applied. King David lost the child but did not lose his life. God forgave but David had to live with the consequences of his actions. We too must come to a point of acceptance and begin to work through our past so that the present and future can be better.

What are the consequences of your past disobedience? Take a few minutes today to write out as many of them as you can think of that you will have to live with based off of your mistake. Now next to each one I want you write out a plan for fixing the ones that can be fixed and then pray that God would begin to allow you to accept those consequences you cannot change and be grateful for forgiveness. Perhaps you need to make a meeting happen with a person you have wronged and ask them to forgive you as well.

Today’s goal is to begin to walk down the path to resolution through admission, confession, addressing the problem, attempting to fix the consequences, and accepting the things that cannot be changed based off of your list. Look one more time at the example of King David. While the child was alive he prayed without ceasing for it. However, once the child was dead and David could do nothing else he began to accept the consequence and move on. This takes time, but it still must happen if we are to live our lives and give God our best.

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