My best friend and her husband recently went on a trip to Mexico. They lounged around a five star hotel, enjoying the all inclusive vacation package they purchased. They walked hand in hand down a beautiful sandy beach one day and spent the next at the hotel pool, complete with a waterfall. They had everything they wanted right there at their fingertips. They went snorkeling, and shopping. They relaxed, made new friends and just enjoyed themselves all around. It was like a little slice of heaven right here on earth. As believers, they thanked God as they knew they were blessed to be there.
They were warned when they entered the country that they should stay within the tourist area as wandering outside could be dangerous. But they figured, how bad can it be? There was a flea market they had heard about, so they decided to go check it out. It was night time when they set off to find the flea market. They quickly became overwhelmed as they walked down the brightly lit, bustling streets of the Mexican town. There were drug stores on every corner. People came at them," like piranhas," asking them if they wanted to buy illegal drugs. All this while armed police were everywhere. It was a dangerous place alright.
Recovered from a life of drug addiction by the grace of God before they were married, they knew all too well that it only takes one moment of weakness to send one spiraling back into that life. Being in that environment could have had disastrous consequences for both of my friends. As they walked along they questioned each other.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes," my friend said, "Let's just get back to the hotel."
What made them wander outside the safety of the tourist area? That flea market sounded so appealing. It was a harmless enough venture, but it entailed going against a warning to carry out. Was it really worth the risk? In the end the flea market turned out to be not so great of an idea. Thankfully no one was harmed in the process of finding that out.
Likewise, God gives us principles to live by in His word that will help us live happy, healthy lives. "You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess." Deut. 5:33
Some people think that Christianity is about following a bunch of "rules." That couldn't be further from the truth. God gave the law, or commandments, to show us that we are incapable of keeping it. He did it to show us that we need a Savior. Jesus came to fulfill the law. He followed all the rules for us. Even so, God gives us principles for living that we would do well to follow.
The psalmist wrote, "I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life". Psalm 119:93 God's word also says, "So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety." Lev. 25:18 Following God's word helps us to be spiritually safe and secure while dwelling in a world that can be brutal. We have a loving Father in heaven. He cares about our well being, so He sets boundaries for us.
Think of a young child. A loving father sets boundaries for her. He teaches the child, telling her not t go in the street. He knows if that child walks in the street she could be hit by a car. So it is with our Father, God. He warns us in His word what not to do and He encourages us in the things we should do, all for our good.
Sometimes we are lured away from the precepts of God by sinful things. That always leads to trouble. "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." James 1:14 Like that flea market that was so tempting to my friends, sin can even seem like something we rationalize as being not so bad. But God's word says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." Proverbs 14:12 What may "seem" right to us can lead to a whole lot of trouble!
By lining our lives and decisions up to the word of God, we can enjoy a rich and fulfilling life. His word is our safety net. That's not to say we won't have tribulations, but we can overcome them and learn from them. We can be safe, despite the storm. We can live our lives growing up in God and enjoying the freedom that comes from knowing we are in the protective arms of our Lord.