Thanks God for the gift of guardrails!

See the Narrow Way as a Focused Path and Thank God for the Gift of Guardrails

Our intrepid son and daughter-in-law hiked up Pike’s Peak, but we drove, oohing and aahing as the car carried us through rugged pines, scattered wildflowers, and startling rock formations. Past the tree line the view changed dramatically, and we began to notice sheer drop offs leading straight down to a mile of nothingness. My cautious husband gripped the wheel and hugged the center line while both of us confessed that the loveliness of the winding switchbacks and hairpin turns had been dramatically diluted by our awareness that there were no guardrails between us and the beautiful abyss to our right.

As believers, we walk a narrow path, and maybe, at times, it feels as twisty and perilous as our ascent to the Pike’s Peak summit. In a recent Renovare podcast, Luci Shaw shared details from her own ninety-plus-year pilgrimage on that narrow path, and as usual, she had startling insight to share

Jesus said there’s a narrow path, which I think is a focused path, not a restrictive path.”

Freedom to Focus is the Gift of a Narrow Path.

Jeremiah wrote wisdom about ancient pathways in which God directly recommends the known way to his scattered people:

Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”

Jeremiah 6:16

There’s certainly a time for breaking trail and tackling adventure, but often we find our flourishing life by walking the known way. Understand me when I say that our Colorado vacation was delightful, and I would not have wanted to miss seeing Pike’s Peak all the way to its 14,000 foot summit, but there was definitely no comfort to be found in those wide-open spaces. I’d have welcomed the presence of sturdy guardrails between me and the sheer, red-rock faces of those descending cliffs!

“Jesus said there’s a narrow path, which I think is a focused path, not a restrictive path.” #LuciShaw
Freedom to focus is the gift of a narrow path. #guardrails

In the same way, I want to give thanks for the guardrails protecting my narrow and gloriously focused path:

Weekly worship with the church gathered, communal life around grace, blessed accountability.
Daily Bible reading, a discipline that nourishes and tethers me to truth.
Prayer like breathing, prayer without ceasing–not like a chain around my ankle, but like an oxygen mask.

Ashley Hales writes beautifully about spacious living within our God-designed limits:

“We think guard rails restrict our freedom… Good guardrails protect us from falling off the side of the cliff and also allow us space to play, explore, and even fail, knowing we are secure. Creativity flourishes amidst constraints.” (A Spacious Life, 112)

Are there limits in your life right now around time, space, finances, or opportunity that have left you frustrated and discouraged? What if you began looking at them as guardrails, a gift from God who knows you well and wants you to live focused and flourishing?

Let’s continue the conversation in the comments. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

Holding you in the Light,

Thanks be to God for his glorious guardrails:
Weekly worship with the church gathered
Daily Bible reading, a tether to truth.
Prayer like breathing

The fall issue of Joyful Life Magazine is out now, and it includes an article from me! Look for “If I’m Already Forgiven, Why Do I Need to Confess My Sins?” Too, my friend Sue Moore Donaldson is sharing her thoughts on spiritual growth. This print publication will orient your gaze toward the beautiful growth and change that the Lord is working in our hearts and our homes.

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45 thoughts on “See the Narrow Way as a Focused Path and Thank God for the Gift of Guardrails”

  1. When I think of boundaries (or guardrails), I think of the banks of rivers. Each side contains the water and in so doing, safely carries a boat or swimmer along in the current to their destination. When the banks no longer do the task of containment, devastation can occur. These days, I am finding myself comforted in knowing God places restraints to keep me safely on the right path for my life and in His will and purposes.

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  2. Though I haven’t been on that steep of an ascent, I hold my breath (as if that helps–ha!) on some of our hilly TN roads with a lesser drop-off and no guard rails. We long for the safety of guard rails on steep roads but foolishly chafe at them in other areas of life. I had not thought of the Biblical narrow path os one of focus, but I can see now that it is.

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  3. We once took the cog railroad up Pike’s Peak, Michele … a straight shot up the mountain! Not sure I would have survived the drive you took, and I totally understand your appreciation for guardrails (literal and metaphorical). I love how Jeremiah 16:6 promises rest for our souls on the narrow path.

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  4. I really appreciate these two thoughts, Michele, “Freedom to focus is the gift of a narrow path” and “See the narrow way as a focused path and thank God for the gift of guardrails.”

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  5. Hi Michele,
    My family and I frequently camp on the face of Pike’s Peak and quite agree that guardrails would not detract from its beauty.
    I love the idea that the way of Christ is one of focus rather than restriction. Beautiful!

    Blessings,
    Tammy

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  6. Praise God for the glorious guardrails! I’m thinking of the ones that popped up just when I needed them, before I plunged head first into a foolish choice or a harmful relationship. In the moment they didn’t seem so glorious, but time has made me wiser and very grateful.

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  7. This is the third time this week that I have come across that Jerimiah verse. Though I have read the Bible numerous times that particular verse hasn’t stood out to me until now. I love when God puts something in front of me and doesn’t let go until I recognize it.

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  8. Yes too few guardrails in some places around here. I experienced the same exileration and then anxiety one time on our way up to the continental divide. I hope you had a great visit to my now home town of Colorado Springs, and thank you for your insights about God’s narrow path.

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    1. Fun to know there are more Maine transplants in the now home town of my son and his family. I wish they were still in Maine, but a benefit of far away family is that we get to visit new places!

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  9. The word of our Lord and Savior keeps us on the path, but I never thought of him as a guardrail, but how true it is!! Thank you for linking up and I hope that you and your family are staying safe.

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  10. I’m very thankful for guardrails too, Michele! Spiritual and physical. So far I’ve been too timid to go to Pike’s Peak when we’ve been in Colorado. Now I really don’t want to. lol. When we are on roads like that, I have to close my eyes and distract myself. I just can’t enjoy the beauty because I fear the danger too much. God’s still working with me on that. 🙂

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    1. Well, maybe you’re a lot smarter than I am, because my heart was pounding as we ascended. I imagined that it was the altitude, but once we reached the top (14,000 feet!) I was fine…

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  11. I love the idea of the narrow path being focused, not restrictive! God has definitely put guardrails around my life, and at time I treat them like barriers to bump up against (kind of like a toddler beating on her crib rails…). Thank you for this new perspective—narrow means focused. Am I focused on the right things? It’s a great question to ask every day!

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  12. What wise words! I like the idea of my path being focused and lit by God rather than restricted by Him. And give me all the guard rails. We used to vacation in Sky High, Colorado…which truly lived up to its name. The road up to the ranch was just as your described on your drive to Pikes Peak. Sheer drop off on one side and mountain on the other. No guard rails. Sometimes life feels like that, but as long as we can pray…

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  13. Yes, guardrails, both literal and figurative, definitely increase one’s feeling of safety, both literally and figuratively! I was just having a conversation yesterday with a friend about the necessity for feeling secure in one’s life. We are all vulnerable in this world and can use all the safety precautions we can get whether our security comes from religion, community, or family and friends. Another beautiful message with a thought-provoking metaphor! Thanks for linking with me.

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

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