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What Could Happen?

Seatbelts can be a nuisance, and I can personally attest to this.  Many years ago I made a rather long trip to Knoxville, TN.  I wanted to take a young man from our congregation to visit Johnson University, my alma mater.  I had just bought a new (to me) car, and was looking forward to trying it out.  So, we strapped on our seatbelts and wound our way in a southeasterly trajectory through prairies, cities, and mountains.  We reached Knoxville just as the needle on the gas gauge reminded me that my sporty new car was thirsty.  My friend and I were also thirsty, so stopped to refuel.  It was only a few miles to campus, and the weather was good, so I decided not to buckle up.  Neither did my traveling companion.  The usage of seatbelts was not mandatory in those days. Besides, what could happen?  We soon found out.

After having traveled only two or three miles down HWY 441 South, I noticed a work van traveling in the northbound lane at a very unsafe speed.  I knew immediately that we were going to be hit.  And we were.  Head on.  My friend suffered a rather serious break to his hand, and I got banged up pretty bad myself.  As the EMTs revived me to consciousness, I spit out what remained of my four front lower teeth.  It was then that I saw what the impact of my body had done to the car.  The steering wheel looked like it had been folded in half.  Remarkably, my arm, which had done such serious damage to the steering wheel, was only bruised.  The seatbelt, which only minutes before had seemed so unnecessary, would have surely protected us from such serious injuries.  If only I had regarded the seatbelt as an asset rather than a liability, I might not have suffered so much pain. 

But as serious as the accident I had without being buckled in, the accident that New Zealander Ivan Segedin was far more severe.  When seatbelt usage became mandatory, Segdin refused to comply with the law.  He considered the law a nuisance, an infringement on his freedom.  So he ignored the law.  The police ticketed him 32 times over a five year period for failing to use his seat belt. Even though this was costing him big money, Segedin still refused to buckle up. Finally, instead of obeying the law, Segedin decided to rely on deception. He made a fake seat belt that would hang over his shoulder and make it appear that he was wearing a seat belt when he was not.  His trick worked for a while. Then, he had a head-on collision. He was thrown forward onto the steering wheel.  But instead of escaping with only some heavy bruises to his arm, Segedin did not escape at all.  He lost his life in the collision.

The warnings of Scripture are not unlike the warning of the seat belt law.  Both warnings are given for your good…for your protection.  And typically, we respond to both Scripture and seat belt laws in much the same way.  We’re indifferent, as I was; or we’re hardened, as Ivan Segedin was.  Either way, we assume nothing serious will ever happen to us, so why guard ourselves? Why guard our physical safety?  Nothing bad will happen.  And why guard our hearts?  Why protect ourselves from spiritual danger?  Nothing bad will ever happen.  Will it?

This week we continue with our sermon series, Guarding Your Heart.  To those who listen to what Scripture has to say about guarding their heart, there is growth in grace.  But to those who reject Scripture or are indifferent to it, their hearts become calloused, hard as a rock.   But it doesn’t matter, does it?  What could happen?