Discounting the rules could cost us our lives

In 1973 I was tutoring a homebound child. Because of bad weather I hadn’t gone to their farm for several days. One day, in spite of the minus 30 degree Fahrenheit temperatures and a 40 mph wind, I decided I had to drive the 5 miles of gravel to tend to my student.

The first of many snowdrifts I encountered was huge. When I arrived at the farm they were surprised to see me and I agreed that I should have stayed home. I gathered completed papers, gave them new assignments and left quickly.

As I approached that huge drift again I was amazed to see that my earlier tracks were gone and the drift was even larger. I was usually timid in the face of large drifts but I knew this demanded courage. I backed down the road and took off into the drift. As the depth of the snow pulled me back and forth my confidence turned to fear. Then my fear turned to panic and I slammed on the breaks. Do you know what happens when you do that in the middle of a huge drift? Nothing good! I made a 90 degree turn into the ditch. The snow was so deep that I could only get the rider’s door open. At that point, I considered my safety options.

First, never leave your car. But, I rationalized that it would be hours before the buses left school, if they left at all. I saw that the town never disappeared so I believed I wouldn’t get lost. I knew it was cold, but I had lots of clothes. After all, it wasn’t really very far. I dressed in everything I had and crawled out of the car. About 10 feet down the road I felt naked in the minus 90 degree Fahrenheit wind chill.

Soon my legs started getting stiff and my body slowed more and more. Weariness threatened to overtake me but I finally got to town and found someone who invited me in. As I directed the tow truck to my car they exclaimed, with admonition in their voices, “You walked half a mile in this weather?” I realized that I had discounted lots of rules. I left my car. I underestimated the effect of the cold on my body. I misjudged the distance. This could have cost me my life.

There are many who discount God’s rules, too. I’ve heard some say that they don’t believe we’re sinners. But the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 Some discount the word “all.”

“I’ve heard some say that there are many ways to heaven. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name (but Jesus) under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12. Some discount, “no other name” and try to get to heaven by doing what we think will work rather than what God says.

I’ve also heard some say that a God of both love and justice is incompatible. God’s love for us nailed Jesus to the cross. God’s judgment on us also nailed Jesus to the cross. Our sin requires justice, the death penalty. God’s love let Jesus take that death penalty for us. God says we can’t earn it. We must only accept what Jesus did. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8. Discounting God’s work will cost us our eternal lives in heaven.

By the way, I should have obeyed the winter safety rule of staying in my car. The father of my student became concerned when I didn’t answer my home phone and came looking for me, risking his own safety.

Jesus gave up his very life to help us. Run to him and enjoy the peace of forgiveness, the joy of a secure eternity and the rest found only in God’s loving arms. “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” Proverbs 18:10.

Helen McCormack writes the Reflections column every six weeks. She and her husband, David, serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators.