I remember hearing a story many years ago. I believe it was an illustration in a sermon. It went something like this:
There was a king who lived at the top of a very steep and rugged mountain. The road up the mountain to his castle was twisted and narrow, and it took a lot of skill to drive the king’s carriage up and down the road without the wooden carriage wheels slipping off the edge and yanking the entire vehicle down the steep precipice on the cliff side of the road. One day, the king’s driver died, and the king had to hire a new driver to take his place. Announcements were sent out to the whole kingdom, and many people applied to become the king’s carriage driver. As the king interviewed each applicant, he would always ask each one, “How close can you drive my carriage to the edge of the cliff and maintain control without the wheels slipping off and the whole carraige plummeting to our death?” Different drivers offered different answers. “I can get with a half a foot of the edge.” “Well, I can get within an inch of the edge.” “Well, I can get within a hair’s breadth of the edge.” The man who was finally hired gave this answer: “Good king. I want to stay as far away from the edge as possible.”
As I continue to study through the book of Esther, and as you continue to graciously listen, I’m continually dumbfounded by some of the choices God’s people made throughout this time in their history. It seems like they were flirting with the edge of the cliff so to speak. And even plummeting down in tragic fasion. And I mean steep, jagged, ragged cliffs. As if they didn’t learn anything from the horrors of deportation and the homesickness that came from being separated from their native land. The same wicked choices that led to their captivity pop up again in Babylon.
I’m learning to be careful and patient with them. Give ‘em the benefit of the doubt. I can’t imagine being in their shoes and am so thankful that, as of now, I’m not. Yet I also want to learn. Sometimes we find ourselves in a tight spot through no fault of our own. Sometimes our conundrums are the result of foolish choices.
I want to live life to the fullest. I don’t want to miss out on anything that God has for me. He is such a gracious and good God, and he gives us everything richly to enjoy. There are many joys to be had. But there are times when wisdom cautions us to steer as far away from the cliff’s edge as possible too. This passage comes to mind:
Proverbs 4:14–15 (ESV)
14Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.
Solomon the sage says, “Stay as far away as you can.” Who cares how close you can come without ending up careening down a cliff to your sudden and premature destruction.
I may not live in a castle at the top of a craggy mountain, but life’s pathway is sometimes steep regardless. I want to fully enjoy what God has, but I also want to be alive to enjoy it. It IS worth risking everything to get to know God better and to become more like his Son. But there are lesser things that just aren’t worth a few inches of a daredevil’s pleasure and the risks that accompany them.
In such cases, stay as far away from the edge as possible.