Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Parable of the Truck Driver (or Stage Coach)

There's a parable I've heard in multiple forms and just heard again today. It goes like this - you want to hire a truck driver to deliver goods for your company. Some versions of the story involve a Stage Coach, but the premise is the same - you hire some sort of vehicle that delivers some sort of precious goods. The path between your place and the destination involves perilous roads with cliffs on one side, where you can easily fall off the edge.

As you interview the drivers of the vehicle, the first one comes to you and says they can drive as fast as they can, getting as close to the edge, "so close that I can get half my tire off the edge and still make it through the road." The second driver says they will go as fast as they can, but stay in the middle of the road the entire way. The third says they'll stay as far away from the edge as they can and go as slow as possible. Then the question is asked, "which driver would you choose?"

The expected answer is always the last one, because the supposedly the safest approach is always the one furthest from taking a person into darkness. Then, it is compared to one's faith, or standards (or maybe even overcoming an addiction) in some way, teaching people to stay as far away from sin as possible, just like the last truck driver. I understand why people tell the story - it makes sense, only to an extent.

I want to suggest the parable is wrong though. I would choose the first driver.

The first driver, because he can "tow the line", has likely been through the experiences needed to get one through tight situations, and when they come, he can get you out of harms way. The part of the story that is not mentioned is that roads aren't always straight and wide. They are windy, get very narrow at some points, and are quite dangerous at others.

I love the History Channel show "Deadliest Roads." In this show, very experienced truckers deliver goods from one place to another, taking the challenge of getting those goods across some of the most dangerous roads in the world. The roads are wide, and easy to drive on many spots, and when the drivers drive those roads, they stay as far away from the edge as possible, just like that third driver.

However, most of these roads have very harrowing, thinning roads, some with slippery surfaces on them where the truck could slide over the side of the road down the cliffs at any moment. These experienced truckers know their trucks though, and they had the experience to get through those roads, some times with their tires half-way off the road. When delivering my goods, these are the truckers I want to hire to get my stuff to its destination safely!

In life, our roads are the same. They're not always straight and wide where we can stay as far away from the edge as possible. Those smart, experienced people will, but we still need to strengthen our foundations, and prepare ourselves for when those roads become thin, and slippery. We can do this through scripture study, learning our Church History, studying our Family Histories, and building standards for ourselves that we can vow never to change. While the roads are wide and secure, this is the time to learn, study , and be prepared.

Then, when we hit those thin and slippery spots, we'll have the preparedness and experience necessary to make it through those trying times. Those that are prepared. "The Experts", are the ones that will make it across those "slippery situations" and continue along the road unscathed. Should we always "tow the line"? Of course not - we should stay as far away as possible. But, we need to still be prepared when "as far as possible" is only a few inches away from us.

It's this latter story I wish we would teach more in our meetings and amongst our friends and family. This is the best way to raise a family. Otherwise, we're just training amateurs who won't know what to do when they approach the edge of a cliff.